Peace Like a River

I recently finished reading Leif Enger’s novel, Peace Like a River. I heard about it from The Holy Post. And as the source of the recommendation might suggest, the book definitely has a Christian flavor. But it is not the standard “Christian book.” There’s nothing formulaic or contrived about it (which, I’m sad to say is true more often than not in the world of Christian fiction). The broader literary community celebrated the work at the time of its release. For instance, it made the list of “Best Books of 2001” for both the Los Angeles Times and Time Magazine. And regardless of what others might think or say about the book, I found it just a lovely story, lovingly rendered, with lovable characters.

I like the summary that the author posted on his own website. Consequently, I won’t go too far into synopsis myself. But I will say that it’s a book about a father and his three children. (They just so happen to be two boys and one girl, just like my kids!). They make stumbling attempts at lives of faith and righteousness. Still, they encounter lots of difficulties. They suffer tragedy and loss. But they also find beauty along the way. Largely from the vantage point of an Airstream trailer out on the Great Plains of North America.

There were a lot of things to love about this book. The characters are noble-but-flawed, entirely believable. The settings are places that I love (the prairies of Minnesota and the Badlands of North Dakota). The action and plot of the story are compelling. I think the book reveals deep truths about our world and ourselves. At the same time, it never feels preachy.

It’s not often that I finish a book and immediately order two copies to give to others, but that’s what happened with this one. I highly recommend this book as a wintertime read. (A lot of the story is set in deep winter, too, so that’s kind of a cool feature). And I hope to explore some of Enger’s other writing sometime soon.

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