Reviews for Peace like a river

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

What readers will appreciate first in Enger's marvelous novel is the language. His limpid sentences are composed with the clarity and richness for which poets strive. It takes longer to get caught up in the story, but gradually, as the complex narrative unwinds, readers will find themselves immersed in an exceptionally heartfelt and moving tale about the resilience of family relationships, told in retrospect through the prism of memory. "We all hold history differently inside us," says narrator Reuben, who was an adolescent in Minnesota in the 1960s, when his brother, Davy, shot and killed two young men who were harassing the family. Rueben's father--in Rueben's estimation fully capable of performing miracles even though the outside world believed him to be lost in the clouds--packs Reuben and his sister up and follows the trail Davy has left in his flight from the law. Their journey comprises the action in the novel, but this is not really a book about adventures on the road. Rather, it is a story of relationships in which the exploration of character takes precedence over incident. Enger's profound understanding of human nature stands behind his compelling prose. --Brad Hooper


Library Journal
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Big doings for this celebration of a father raising three children in 1960s Minnesota: there's a 100,0000-copy first printing and an 18-city author tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
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Dead for 10 minutes before his father orders him to breathe in the name of the living God, Reuben Land is living proof that the world is full of miracles. But it's the impassioned honesty of his quiet, measured narrative voice that gives weight and truth to the fantastic elements of this engrossing tale. From the vantage point of adulthood, Reuben tells how his father rescued his brother Davy's girlfriend from two attackers, how that led to Davy being jailed for murder and how, once Davy escapes and heads south for the Badlands of North Dakota, 12-year-old Reuben, his younger sister Swede and their janitor father light out after him. But the FBI is following Davy as well, and Reuben has a part to play in the finale of that chase, just as he had a part to play in his brother's trial. It's the kind of story that used to be material for ballads, and Enger twines in numerous references to the Old West, chiefly through the rhymed poetry Swede writes about a hero called Sunny Sundown. That the story is set in the early '60s in Minnesota gives it an archetypal feel, evoking a time when the possibility of getting lost in the country still existed. Enger has created a world of signs, where dead crows fall in a snowstorm and vagrants lie curled up in fields, in which everything is significant, everything has weight and comprehension is always fleeting. This is a stunning debut novel, one that sneaks up on you like a whisper and warms you like a quilt in a North Dakota winter, a novel about faith, miracles and family that is, ultimately, miraculous. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Fair or not, Enger's first novel will inevitably be compared to the work of Garrison Keillor: both men are veterans of Minnesota Public Radio, and the book very much shares the spirit of Keillor's radio work and fiction, with its quiet, observant gaze capturing the beauty of simple things, related through wise and thoughtful characters in this case, the Land family from North Dakota. Asthmatic youngster Reuben Land tells the admittedly shaggy-dog story of his older brother Davy, who shoots and kills two violent intruders as they break into the family's home; Davy is convicted but manages to flee. Both the Lands and the law follow in hot pursuit, but the family seems to have support from a higher power father Jeremiah himself has performed a miracle or two in his lifetime (walking on water, healing the afflicted with his touch, and the like). Biblical allusions abound, and fantastic things happen, such as the patriarch's four-mile tour via tornado. "Make of it what you will," says Reuben. A low-key charmer for literary collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/01.] Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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