Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Peace Like A River Flows Beautifully

I just finished Peace Like A River by Leif Enger and, wow, what a book! Honestly, it's the best novel I've read in quite awhile. I loved it.

The story is told by Reuben Land, an 11-year-old asthmatic, whose life chnges forever when his older brother, Davy, is jailed for murdering two boys who had been threatening the Land Family. Reuben and his colorful little sister Swede miss their brother terribly, as does their father whose worries take a toll on his health. When Davy's trial takes a turn for the worse, Swede decides it's time to break their big brother out of jail; their plan is foiled when both siblings fall asleep waiting for a chance to sneak out of the house. To their surprise and delight, the family discovers that Davy has broken himself out while they slept. Thus begins their journey to the Badlands in hot pursuit of their outlaw brother. With a federal agent tracking their every move, the Lands follow their hearts and their father's uncanny "inspiration" from the Lord to find their beloved brother.

What really sparkles in this story is the characters. Reuben is helplessly flawed; his cowardice weighs him down, but his honesty makes him true and noble. Swede absolutely sparkles as the imaginative, spunky little sister who can weave tales out of thin air and foil the "putrid fed" by sabotaging him with maple syrup. She is an incredible, irresistible character. Jeremiah Land provides an interesting twist to the story. He is a kind, wise father, who talks regularly with the Lord and reads his King James every morning. In fact, Reuben describes him as a literal miracle-worker, equating him with Jesus Christ Himself. As far-fetched as it sounds, you come to believe Reuben's view of his humble, steadfast father. The Lands are believable, likeable and utterly impossible to forget.

If you're looking for a beautiful novel about family, faith and innocence, pick up Peace Like A River - I promise you won't be able to put it down!

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