Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Reviewed by Renée Bosman, Reference Librarian for Government and Public Affairs
Peace Like a River is one of those rare novels that combines beautiful, almost poetic, language with engaging storytelling. Eleven-year-old asthmatic Reuben Land narrates the story of his family as their quiet Midwestern way of life abruptly ends in the winter of 1962, when his older brother Davy kills two teenagers who break into their home. During his trial, Davy escapes from jail one night and heads west, setting into motion a manhunt that soon involves federal investigators. Guided by faith, Reuben, his father, and his sister head west with hopes of reunion — though they have no idea where Davy is headed. "Once traveling, it's remarkable how quickly faith erodes," states Reuben. "It starts to look like something else — ignorance for example." Yet the Lands press on, with help along the way from friends both old and new, as well as from some well-timed miracles, brought on by the haunting character of Jeremiah Land, whose relationship with God is not unlike that of the Old Testament prophets. With compelling characters, lyrical descriptions of stark North Dakota winters, and its nod to the Wild West, Peace Like a River is an example of contemporary American literature at its best.