Sunday, January 27, 2008

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

I really loved this book. The narrator is an 11-year-old boy named Rueben. He tells the story with such interesting details, even giving little asides to the reader like he is telling the story just to me. It is the story of a Jeremiah Land, the father who can work miracles like walking on air and healing with his hands; the already mentioned Rueben who struggles with life-threatening asthma; 9-year-old Swede, the sister who can write amazing stories and poetry and is a sort of mother figure for the family; and Davy, the son who kills two boys who are trying to do harm to his family.

After Davy commits murder and escapes from jail, the family goes searching for him. They encounter several wonderful people who help them along their way. They are led by Jeremiah who is in touch with a higher source. They stumble across a wonderful woman named Roxanna who takes them in for a time and later becomes their mother. Eventually they do find Davy and spend a short time with him before he leaves again.

Davy has been staying with a creepy delusional man named Jape Waltzer. Jape follows Davy to his family and shoots Rueben and Jeremiah. Rueben should have died, Jeremiah should have lived, but they change places and Jeremiah dies. Rueben lives miraculously acquiring a perfect set of lungs and goes on to live a productive life. Davy weaves in and out of his life showing up to visit for short times before melting away again.

My favorite character is Swede who posseses old-woman like wisdom and grit. She cooks for her family and takes care of them. She is obssesed with the old west and loves to hear stories about outlaws with their guns and horses. Her writing skills are amazing - she deals with the loss of Davy with her story of Sundown, a powerful western hero, and the villain - Valdez.

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