Book Reviews of Peace Like a River

Peace Like a River
Peace Like a River
Author: Leif Enger
ISBN-13: 9780871137951
ISBN-10: 087113795X
Publication Date: 9/2/2001
Pages: 320
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 77

3.8 stars, based on 77 ratings
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

108 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Peace Like a River on + 329 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 13
I have both the print and the audio versions of this book, and cannot believe that it took me until now to read either copy of this wonderful book that was published back in 2001! How to describe it? Adventure? Mystery? Fantasy? It is all of those, but mostly, a quest.
Set in the Midwest in the 1960's, this tale is told by 11 year old, asthmatic Reuben, starting with his own stillbirth, and miraculous resurrection by his father. An ordinary man, a school janitor, divorced and doing a fine job of raising his 3 children, who just happens to walk on air when he prays. The story moves to the Badlands when the father takes Reuben and his 9 year old sister Swede out of school to search for their 16 year old brother who has broken out of jail after being convicted of murdering the young men who were harassing the family. Here, moving from Jetstream & the FBI, to horseback and posse, it appears we are reliving a western, and indeed, in comes a relative of Butch Cassidy, and we learn what really happened to him and The Kid.
All the characters are entertaining, but none as much as Swede, who even at that young age is destined to be a marvelous writer, whose epic, rhyming poem of the Old West's Good Guys vs. Bad Guys is interspersed throughout the script. A delight, indeed.
A tragedy for sure, this is still a story of hope, love, and a belief in magic and family. A real page-turner.
reviewed Peace Like a River on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
I heard rave reviews about this book. Overall, I was pleased after reading it. I thought it was very good. But it was one of those books that started out great, slowed and dragged in the middle and ended great. It wasn't a waste of time, that's for sure, but it wasn't one of the best books I've ever read, like I heard it would be.
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Helpful Score: 7
I know the book got rave reviews, but I didn't think it was so great. Parts of it were tiresome.
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Helpful Score: 5
Humorous, devastating, spiritual -- what more could one ask for in a book? We read this in book club and most of the ratings were 7's, 8's and 9's (highest is 10). Highly recommended.
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Helpful Score: 4
The narrative voice of the boy in this novel is stunning! Well written, compulsive-to-read...a friend recommended this to me to read right away, ahead of all my other books, and I do not regret it. Great fiction!
reviewed Peace Like a River on
Helpful Score: 4
Dive into "Peace Like a River" and find yourself emmersed in life in the Dakota plains in the early 1960s. As we follow 11 year old Rube Land and his family, we learn about the love of a family, the power of forgiveness, the question of justice, and the existence of miracles. Can a miracle exist without a witness?

Rube's 9 year old sister is one of my favorite characters of all time. Don't miss an opportunity to meet her!
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Helpful Score: 4
Slipstream for the thinking and adventurous believer. Exquisite writing, unique story, genuinely worthwhile reading. I highly recommend it.
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Helpful Score: 4
I almost hate to post this because I love it so much...but my innate desire to share great books overrides my selfishness. about family, love, fate, and miracles. real miracles.
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Helpful Score: 3
I loved this book. It is now one of my favorites. This is an adventure, that will take you down a river on trip that you won't forget soon. Lief Enger shows his love for rivers throughout this story.
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Helpful Score: 3
This story, told from the viewpoint of the young boy, was thoroughly engrossing. Very well written and engaging, it really made me think about the choices we make in life and how they affect those we love. It is a thought provoking story which incompasses life and eternity and how we live our lives. I was very taken with this book and really enjoyed the narrators way of telling the story while providing different viewpoints for different characters. This is one you could read again and again and still get something different out of it each time. Very good book.
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Helpful Score: 3
I couldn't get into this book and am reposting it without finishing it.
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Helpful Score: 3
Very lyrical...nice phrasing...good story and characters.
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Helpful Score: 2
I LOVE this authors writing style. My book club read this one and we had great discussions about it's moral questions.
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Helpful Score: 2
I keep at least two copies of this book on hand...one so that I'll always have one and one to give away. I won't be posting this one on paperbackswap.com, but just want to encourage people out there to get this-it's first-class writing. Ivan Doig's This House of Sky" is another to savor and think about long after you've turned a page or closed the book.
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Helpful Score: 2
Surprise ending. Not sure if I liked it or not.
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Helpful Score: 2
Great book! Great story! Great characters! I especially liked Swede and her vocabulary, not to mention her epic cowboy poems. And of course, Rube, who is so human, struggling with what is the right thing to do. The feeling of a brother gone bad, wanting to protect him, bring him back into the fold. The book was full of great imagery.
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Helpful Score: 2
Well written
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Helpful Score: 1
Father, asthmatic son and daughter travel cross-country trying to find oldest son who is running away from a murder charge. An interesting and touching story of their love and faith in each other.
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Helpful Score: 1
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 center of Leif Enger's remarkable first novel, Peace Like a River. Rube recalls the events of his childhood, in 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 Lands' 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
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Helpful Score: 1
I found this book to be a bit slow and wordy for me. Had to force myself to finish it.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is a great book! I didn't want it to end.
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Helpful Score: 1
good for book club discussion. A family bonds over a tragedy.
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Helpful Score: 1
A heroic quest, a tragedy, and a love story.
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Helpful Score: 1
Very unique book! Highly recommended!
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Helpful Score: 1
Great reading
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Helpful Score: 1
A well written story of a family struggling to make sense of the world.
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Helpful Score: 1
Very good story, took me longer to read than usual but well worth the time.
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Helpful Score: 1
A good read. Unpredictable, an interesting story about a family's love for one another.
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Helpful Score: 1
Don't know how to describe this book. It was just a really enjoyable book to read. I recommend it. A story about a family, father, 2 sons and 1 daughter with a fantastic imagination and some of their trials and tribulations and adventures.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was a beautifully written book about family, storytelling, miracles and the importance of the journey.
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Helpful Score: 1
I thought this book was really sad and very slow. The family was put through a lot of tragedy and I think it was good that their tragedy was off set by their personal miracles. I enjoyed the faith aspect of the book.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book was excellent! An interesting story told in lyrical words. I would recommend it highly!
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Helpful Score: 1
One of the best books I have ever read! A beautifully written story...
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Helpful Score: 1
Fabulous. Even my hubby loved it!
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Helpful Score: 1
Thisis a book that serves to remind us why we read fiction tobigin with;to commune with a vividly,loving rendered world,tolose ourself in story and lanuage and beauty, to savor what we don't want to end yet know must.Story written in eyes of 12 year old.
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Helpful Score: 1
Although you will probably want to have some kleenex on hand at some points in your reading, this book deserved all the critical praise it received.
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Helpful Score: 1
Poetically beautiful. This novel has a strong plot, likable characters, and fast action, but it is the magical prose that will ensnare you. Don't start reading it unless you have lots of time, because you won't want to put it down!
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Helpful Score: 1
Jailed as a 16-year old for killing two boys who had kidnapped his 9-year old sister, Davy Land goes to jail and then escapes. This book is a fast read, touched with faith and miracles, a family survives.
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Helpful Score: 1
What a wonderful story! The narrator did an exceptional job of portraying the characters. (I listened to the Audio version) I could envision the characters so easily. Although some of the experiences were a little farfetched, I found myself laughing and crying and "living" with the family. I would definately read more stories from this author.
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Helpful Score: 1
Unique and superb writing style that speaks to my heart.
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Helpful Score: 1
I loved this book. the descriptive writing was superb, the story had so many messages. I recommend it.
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Helpful Score: 1
A deeply moving book about the incredible strength people possess when they love one another unselfishly and enduringly. The book is beautifully written and a real joy to read. The characters are unforgettable and bring to mind the people in To Kill A Mockingbird although the story is set in the midwest and deals with a closeknit family of three siblings who are being raised by their father. When the oldest boy kills two thugs who have been threatening and bullying the family, he disappears and remains a fugitive for most of the book while the rest of the family searches relentlessly for him. This book made it to my "best of the best" list of really good reads!
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Helpful Score: 1
Eleven-year old Reuben Land, along with his sister and father, are on a cross-country search for his outlaw brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey unfolds like a revelation, and its conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates.
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Helpful Score: 1
I selected this book because of its name. It sounded like it would be a nice heart warming story. It was not quite as I expected, but it was certainly intertaining and, yes, it was heartwarming.
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I liked, didn't love this book. It was captivating at times, yet other times I got lost trying to listen. The best part was the ending. It all came together nicely.
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I enjoyed the book very much. It was a different kind of story for me but well written. It made me wonder what I would do to help one of my children if they were in the same situation. Life deals us many hard choices.
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This book is very well written and moves along pretty quickly; good character development. I really enjoyed the "story within a story" as told by the lead character's little sister. However, based on the description, i thought there would be more excitement in this "cross-country search," which turned out to be just sitting around a farm house in Montana in the dead of winter. I also found the dad's miracles and the lead character's asthma to be weird outliers that have little to do with the main story at hand....
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I thought this was an excellent book. I listened to it on audio, and sort of followed along in the "hand held" version. The narrator has a real 'voice' and it is easy to read and follow. It is a rich mixture of adventure, tragedy and healing.

Born with no air in his lungs, it was only when Reuben Land's father, Jeremiah, picked him up and commanded him to breathe that Reuben's lungs filled. Reuben struggles with debilitating asthma from then on, making him a boy who knows firsthand that life is a gift, and also one who suspects that his father is touched by God and can overturn the laws of nature.The quiet 1960's midwestern life of the Lands is upended when Reuben's brother Davy kills to marauders who have come to harm the family. The morning of his sentencing, Davy ? a hero to some, a cold-blooded murderer to others ? escapes from his cell, and the Lands set out in search of him. Their journey is touched by serendipity and the kindness of strangers, and they cover territory far more extraordinary than even the Badlands where they search for Davy from their Airstream trailer. Sprinkled with playful nods to Biblical tales, beloved classics such as Huckleberry Finn, the adventure stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, and the westerns of Zane Grey, Peace Like A River is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, a love story, and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world.
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Spellbinding novel. I could not put it down. I was Swede's age at the time this story takes place and also had 2 older brothers; I was enchanted by the story. I look forward to more from the author.
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I only posted this paperback on the site because I bought a hardback version after reading it. This is a wonderful story and although it has been out a couple of years, I would recommend giving it a look if you have not read it! Enger's next effort: "So Young, So Proud, So Handsome" is also a great read.
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Wow, what a great book! The writing is exceptionally beautiful and the story is profound.

So, do you believe in miracles? I mean real, honest-to-goodness miracles? Reuben Land does because he is a living, breathing example of one. Plus, he has witnessed more at the hands of his father. When his adored older brother Davy needs a miracle in the worst possible way, Reuben doesn't doubt that Davy will get one somehow. Reuben and his family will stay with you a long time after reading this book.

Highly recommended.
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I enjoyed this story, written from the young brothers perspective. It was a fantastic view of a family who pulls together despite life changing situations.
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Loved it! Best read of 2010.
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Though it is very well written and extremly engaging, In the final analysis I am sorry that I ever read this book. I have known people that were murdered, and it is not something I think of as entertainment, and the bottom line is that this book is about premeditated murder, and it is up close and personal. Book clubs talk about the miracles, and relationships very carefully sidestepping the fact that people were gunned down in cold blood, and I was in a bad mood for a week after reading this. I would rather read Classics by Charlotte Bronte, history books by Barbara Tushman, or make believe like J.K. Rowley. Not this.
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Highly engaging story, full of love of family and adventure as well, beautifully written.
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A friend recommended this book. We both agree the writing is excellent. The book flows like a river.
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Good book ....our bookclub discussion was very active. and everyone just loved it. Great discriptions.
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"If ever there was a time for a novel of faith and redemption--a quiet book of old-fashined verities--this is it. Written in lyrical, open-hearted prose, PEACE LIKE A RIVER even has a comforting, remarkable glimpse into the afterlife."--Michael Giltz, New York Post

"Leif Enger has written a great Midwestern, a debut novel that explores the limits of filial loyalty and inscribes the northern Great Plains on the reader's bones...Enger's people are tender-hearted stoics, played not for humor but for something more raw--Garrison Keillor's characters in the hands of Russell Banks."--Bruce Barcott, Outside

"PEACE LIKE A RIVER serves as a reminder of why we read fiction to begin with."--Andrew Roe, San Francisco Chronicle
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This is a book of family love and magic. You will not want it to end.
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From the beginning, this book gave me the same feeling of warmth and comfort that I experienced in To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my favorite books. It has the same elements of good father, precocious daughter, tricky moral situation, and lyrical prose. I like everything about this book, including its well-handled ending.
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great book. The writing reminds me or All the Pretty Horses, which I loved.
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This is the richest book Ive read in quite a while and an amazing first book for Enger. Its not just marvelous characters in a thrilling plot, but a story about family, faith and love. In 1962, 11-year-old Reuben Land, his 8-year-old sister Swede and 16-year-old brother Davy live with their father, Jeremiah, in a small Midwest town. Reuben, an asthmatic, reckons he was spared at birth to be a witness to the miracles his father performs. When Davy shoots and kills two intruders and escapes from jail, he becomes an outlaw right out of one of Swedes epic poems. The familys trip west in search if him will bring great joy into their lives and grief, too.
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Loved it. I would call it a masterwork. Great story, characters and the author is a natural born storyteller.
Br and sagacious.
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This was an excellent book. Very well written with lots of description and a calm but forward flow - like a river' current. I had not heard of the book before but based on somereviews on paperback swap I decided tor equest it - and I loved it!
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A well written and fascinating story with subtle christian messages, nothing overbearing. I read 2 other books (library books) while reading this one and never felt lost when I picked it up again. If not for the library books needing to be returned I would have read this book through at one time and never lost interest.
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A book that I must keep, this story abounds with family ties, values, and mysticism. Challenged by the harsh realities of survival in a rough land, a father holds his family together through tragedy and faith. A must read for any serious fiction reader.
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National Bestseller. One of Time Magazine's Top Five Books of the Year. A Christian Scinec MOnitor, Denver Post and LA Times Best Book of the Year.
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I loved the writer's style of bringing out each character and weaving a mesmerizing story.
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This is a wonderful story, full of love and devotion and family strength, with great characters.
Leah G.
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Evangelicals, outlaws, and poets. Wonderful read, despite a somewhat weak ending.
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Intriguing characters and a wonderful snapshot of a place in time... The conflict encompasses a fascinating moral dilemma--can you love the sinner but hate the sin? The ending feels contrived, and the sticky question feels unresolved.
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LA Times Best Book of the Year!
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A rich mixture of adventure, tragedy and healing. I have two copies of this book and have not finished it. But so far I think it is a good read.
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A fantastic novel. Very moving and thought provoking.
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Good writing, nice narrative voice, interesting characters.
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I read this book last summer and could hardly put it down!
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Great beach book but better.
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Debut novel set in the Midwest US, in which the main character (an 11-year-old boy) sets out on a cross-country journey to find his older brother who has been charged with murder.
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One of the best books I've read this year!
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This book is excellent. Clearly Enger wrote directly from his heart. It is beautifully and simply written, and captivating from the first to the last page.
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This touching book is so mesmerizing I couldn't put it down for 3 days!! I would (and do) recommend this book to everyone I know!
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I loved this book. The writing is imaginative and puts the reader into the story.
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This is a book my mother recommended and I must say that it is quite beautifully written. It really does come off as a modern classic, in that it invites discussion. It has a fair amount of magic in it - well, miracles, more like. And it never once strays from its young narrator. I certainly enjoyed it and the ending was surprisingly satisfactory.
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One of the best stories I have ever read. I always have a copy on hand for a re-read. I have been waiting and looking for his next book.
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I have both the print and the audio versions of this book, and cannot believe that it took me until now to read either copy of this wonderful book that was published back in 2001! How to describe it? Adventure? Mystery? Fantasy? It is all of those, but mostly, a quest.

The audio version is read by Chad Lowe, and if he is to ever receive an award for his work, this should be it. He is an outstanding narrator for this book. One of the best I've ever heard.

Set in the Midwest in the 1960's, this tale is told by 11 year old, asthmatic Reuben, starting with his own stillbirth, and miraculous resurrection by his father. An ordinary man, a school janitor, divorced and doing a fine job of raising his 3 children, who just happens to walk on air when he prays. The story moves to the Badlands when the father takes Reuben and his 9 year old sister Swede out of school to search for their 16 year old brother who has broken out of jail after being convicted of murdering the young men who were harassing the family. Here, moving from Jetstream & the FBI, to horseback and posse, it appears we are reliving a western, and indeed, in comes a relative of Butch Cassidy, and we learn what really happened to him and The Kid.
All the characters are entertaining, but none as much as Swede, who even at that young age is destined to be a marvelous writer, whose epic, rhyming poem of the Old West's Good Guys vs. Bad Guys is interspersed throughout the script. A delight, indeed.
A tragedy for sure, this is still a story of hope, love, and a belief in magic and family. A real page-turner.
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Great book about a midwestern family that discovers the power of miracles. Reminds the reader of To Kill A Mocking bird a little.
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Fabulous story! One of those books you want to read fast but don't want to end.
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Absolutely beautifully written - a wonderful read
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Three stars
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I enjoyed this book, it was the authors first novel
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A terrific read! Loved it!
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This is a wonderful book about togetherness, love and family bonds! A truly wonderful read!
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I had heard a lot about this book, but as I began it, I didn't think I would enjoy it. However after about 30 pages, I got hooked and really got swept up in the story. The portrayal of family relationships was really beautiful.
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One of the best books I have read in a long time.
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This audio book was totally fascinating to listen to. I fell in love with the charachters and even though the father for example could have become a caricacture of his religious beliefs but he is portrayed as such a kind and nurturing man that he doesn't seem nuts at all. The end came out of nowhere and it leaves you satisfied somewhere. A total gem.
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Beautiful prose; wonderful story. That says it all. I highly recommend this wonderful story about a family's search, both literal and figuative.
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very well written. enjoyed!
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A bit drawn out.
Was a good story told from the view of a 11 year old boy.
Life in the 50/60's.

Recommend
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Great book! Well written, interesting, and captivating. Very cool!
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This is a beautiful, beautiful story. The writing is superb, with clever use of words in descriptions and vivid narration. It is narrated by Reuben, 11 yrs. old, who is severely asthmatic. When his older brother kills 2 intruders in self defense, he is accused of murder. He escapes the jail and subsequently the family must go looking for him. Reuben is convinced he has witnessed miracles along the way, performed by his dad. A touching, believable story you will enjoy. D.
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Reuben Land, an asthmatic eleven year old boy, finds himself on a cross-country search for his outlaw older brother. Davy, his brother, has been controversially charged with murder. A story of family, love and faith.
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youll be carried away by the elemental surge of its story, the sheer eagerness to see what happens to the engrossing characters who exist far from the intrusions of the media in a timeless area of family love and anguish over a lost memver. It is Enger's gift that he has made their extraordinary world credible. -jim harrison
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I have read this book before. I had loaned it out and wanted to read it again so got it here. Reading it for the second time, the writing is even richer and I am loving the story again. It is a wonderful read.
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I loved this book. the story was so well written. I did not want the book to end. The characters were great, I loved each one.
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Very, very enjoyable.
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What an extremely engaging, unusual book. I loved the characters and the story told through the 11 year old boy after he is grown. Poignant tale about family love, loyalty, betrayal and belief in miracles.
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National Bestseller
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Back of book:

Leif Enger's best-selling debut is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, and a love story, in which "what could be undelievable becomes extraordinary", Enger brings us eleven year old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy in the Midwest who has reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Reuben finds himself on across-country search for his outlaw older brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey unfolds like a revelation, and its conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates.