Peace Like a River

By Leif Enger,

Book cover of Peace Like a River

Book description

When Israel Finch and Tommy Basca, the town bullies, break into the home of school caretaker Jeremiah Land, wielding a baseball bat and looking for trouble, they find more of it than even they expected. For seventeen-year-old Davey is sitting up in bed waiting for them with a Winchester rifle.…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Peace Like a River as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

When I was thirty-one, on a Marine base in Virginia, I had a spiritual awakening. I stepped out of my ego and saw it from the outside—this thing I’d thought was myself but was actually a persona I’d fabricated to protect myself. The experience left me no longer wanting to solve the mystery of life, but wanting to live in the mystery. Peace Like a River is the embodiment of this longing to live in the mystery of existence. Narrated by a young boy whose father’s mysterious, other-worldly powers are revealed again and again as his older brother faces and…

Years ago, I pulled this novel from the library shelf on a whim, knowing nothing then of its author. Oh, what a powerful book! Reuben’s coming of age pulled me in and never let go. Eleven years old and asthmatic, Reuben idolizes his brother Davy. But after Davy is wanted for murder, Reuben faces the moral dilemma of justice versus loyalty. Initially, Reuben considers the federal agent tasked with finding Davy a “bad guy” and struggles with his father’s cooperation with the agent. But as time goes on, Reuben’s decision to value the agent’s life over his brother’s freedom suggests…

There is something golden in the innocence of childhood. It is a cradle of poetry as ephemeral as the years themselves, yet Enger unfolds the story with the patience of a innocent listening child. Some see faith as a weakness, an absence of reason. But for believers, it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Only in understanding its essence can we attempt to see the beauty Enger shows. Here is the guidepost for the good life, reflected on by Jeremiah Land’s son.

While this book is different in scope, it still has the feeling of a saga, with a definite journey, and is wonderfully anchored in both time and place—1950s Midwest America, with the narrator an asthmatic eleven-year-old boy who, with his father and younger sister, go travelling to find his older brother who is on the run after killing a boy who tried to kidnap his younger sister, Swede. Full of both humor and sorrow, with a unique spiritual element, this book is incredibly atmospheric and powerful, and definitely makes you think long after you’ve finished the story—about the possibility of…

I’m a firm believer that we can learn a lot from our younger selves. This unforgettable story contains a touch of magical realism and is told by Reuben Land, a man reminiscing about a quest he once went on with his father, Jeremiah, and his younger sister, the courageous Swede, as they set out to find his brother, Davy. This one speaks of love, loss, and faith as seen through the eyes of Reuben’s eleven-year-old self. Beautifully told, it explores extraordinary truths about life, death, and miracles.

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