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Peace Like A River Paperback – 2 Sep 2002
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To the list of great American child narrators that includes Huck Finn and Scout Finch, let us now add Reuben "Rube" Land, the asthmatic 11-year-old boy at the centre of Leif Enger's remarkable first novel, Peace Like a River. Rube recalls the events of his childhood, small-town Minnesota circa 1962, in a voice that perfectly captures the poetic verbal stoicism of the Northern Great Plains. "Here's what I saw," Rube warns his readers. "Here's how it went. Make of it what you will." And Rube sees plenty.
In the winter of his 11th year, two schoolyard bullies break into the Land house, and Rube's big brother Davy guns them down with a Winchester. Shortly after his arrest Davy breaks out of jail and goes on the lam. Swede is Rube's younger sister, a precocious writer who crafts rhymed epics of romantic Western outlawry. Shortly after Davy's escape, Rube, Swede and their father, a widowed school custodian, hit the road too, swerving this way and that across Minnesota and North Dakota, determined to find their lost outlaw Davy. In the end it's not Rube who haunts the reader's imagination, it's his father, torn between love for his outlaw son and the duty to do the right, honest thing. Enger finds something quietly heroic in the bred-in-the-bone Minnesota decency of America's heartland. Peace Like A River opens up a new chapter in Midwestern literature. --Claire Dederer, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Enger has given his narrator a voice that is perfect for this frozen fairytale.' -- The Times
'Poetic, magical and deeply moving...a remarkable book that can't come too highly recommended as an antidote for our uncertain times.' -- Birmingham Post
'Poignant and poetic, this story is crafted in the grand tradition of American coming-of-age literature.' -- Scotsman
'Resonant...a likeable, thought provoking read.' -- Literary Revew --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Peace Like a River has elements of To Kill A Mockingbird, Cold Mountain, and Cormac McCarthy's modern westerns, but it is a masterpiece in its own right. Every sentence is a joy, every thought is fresh, every character believable. Without being preachy or moralising it does what stories are meant to do: inspires you to live a better life.
It took me a chapter or two to get 'hooked' and the references to the wild west were sometimes a struggle for me (never having seen a western in my life!), but I would still whole-heartedly recommend it. The 'feel' of this book is just lovely, with an engrossing storyline and a magical twist.
The ending, particularly the chapter before last, was deeply moving and perhaps the best ending to a book I've ever read.
Throw into the mix the central narrator, an 11 year old boy with asthma, a 'romantic' (to his two siblings) teenage double murderer, and a father who possesses miraculous, healing powers, and you are set for an enchanting, and heartbreaking story.
Though the family itself is the centre piece, there is a wonderful supporting cast of larger than life characters, who again, feel like they have stepped from the pages of the tail end of the 19th century.
Enger is a superlative writer and story-teller.
The ending (which I will of course not give away) is an astonishing, superlative, incandescent piece of imaginative writing, where the style perfectly catches the grandeur of its subject matter.
I finished it on a bus, taken completely unaware, and could only weep with no shades to hide behind!
I look forward to more of Leif Enger's writing!
The book is filled with penetrating insights - the knid of knowledge one acquires from being a keen observer of human nature and maybe even growing up on a farm. I don't remember ever reading another ending which packs more of a wallop than the last chapter in this magnificent gem.
This book could and should become a word of mouth bestseller ... and I for one can't recommend it enough. Enriching and a soon to be classic .... I sure hope so!! Brilliant
Lief Enger certainly knows how to cook up a good story and if you've not read it yet, then I highly recommend it.