Ein wahres Wunder.

ISBN: 3442545390
ISBN 13: 9783442545391
By: Leif Enger

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About this book

What happens when ordinary lives are shattered by extraordinary circumstances?The Land family enjoy and idyllic existence until the oldest son, Davy, is arrested for a double manslaughter. But when Davy breaks out of jail and flees into the bleak Dakota Badlands, his father Jeremiah must gather his younger children and pursue the outlaw into the wilderness. Their epic journey leads them all to a place from which there is no return: a place that will test them almost beyond endurance and stretch the ties that bind them to their absolute limit...

Reader's Thoughts


I found myself drawn into this book from the beginning. The narrator is an engaging, honest boy that weaves this story bit by bit until I couldn't put it down. There are so many themes in this book--miracles, faith, family, violence, healing, kindness, love, legality, murder and more all set against the backdrop of the Dakotas. My favorite character had to be the father, Jeremiah Land. There were things that were hard to believe. That was the main point, though. In the beginning there is talk of miracles and things that can't be explained. To enjoy this book, you must suspend your disbelief. You won't be disappointed.


OK! I'm finally getting around to writing a review for this book! I actually finished reading it a week ago, but wasn't able to get around to reviewing it until now because a) I got super busy and b) this is a really hard book to review.So this is what I liked about it: 1) The beautiful prose made it very enjoyable to read. It was like listening to a grandpa or favorite uncle telling stories of when he was a boy. 2) Swede's poetry, of course it's impossible for an eight year old to write poetry like that, but still, I enjoyed it. 3) The characters were very likable. What didn't I like? Here comes the hard part. I had to think about this for a long time, it really took me a while to figure out just what it was that didn't work for me and I think I have it. The problem is this: the book sends conflicting messages. On one hand there are messages of faith and loyalty to family, on the other hand there are also messages like, it's ok to run from the law, it's ok to lie to a police officer especially if it's a Fed because Feds are bad guys, it's ok to kill someone who has wronged you and if you pray the Lord will help you to escape from the law.It's kind of weird because I really did enjoy reading the book, but then when it was over I felt bewildered and confused. It was like someone put the pieces from three different puzzles into one box and said "Here put this puzzle together." No matter how hard you try, the pieces won't fit. There are parts of this book that just don't fit. It starts out with this nice American church-going family from the early sixties, they're out in the country on a family outing, hunting geese. The next thing you know the oldest son is shooting people and it's clearly not self defense. Here's another piece that doesn't fit, through most of the book the father is less than cooperative with the law, but then he'll randomly perform a miracle like he's a god or something. Where did that come from? The violence and the random supernatural stuff just doesn't fit in with the rest of the story. The most frustrating thing about this book is, it had so much potential, Enger really is a talented writer. This book could've been a powerful force for good, but instead it just leaves you scratching your head, wondering what in the heck you were supposed to get out of those 320 pages.


** spoiler alert ** I was so excited to read this book but what a disappointment! It started off well I thought, with an interesting story told by an 11 year old boy. However, unfortunately for me, I didn't realize how much I actually hated this book until I was over half-way through, so decided to just finish it hoping the ending would be spectacular enough to save it. Once again, extremely disappointed. While others have very justified problems with the overzealous language and overused literary quotes, and the ridiculous aspect of the father performing miracles, my main problem with this story was that it was simply so ANTI-CLIMATIC. Every time something bad or dramatic happened, it would still all work out. People get caught but always narrowly manage to get away, they got shot but not fatally or even brutally injured. It was as if the book was for an eleven year old instead of told from the point of view of one. Bottom line, don't waste your time.


Among the many glowing reviews for Peace Like a River, there is this:"Peace Like a River serves as a reminder of why we read fiction to begin with: to commune with a vividly, lovingly rendered world, to lose ourselves in story and language and beauty, to savor what we don't want to end yet know must."I would add that I read to meet and know fascinating characters. At any rate, the reviewer got it right — Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, has all this and more. Character: Reuben Land, an 11-year-old boy who suffers from asthma, is the book's narrator, looking back through the lenses of memory and adulthood. His younger sister Swede is a virtuoso in heroic verse on Old Western outlawry. She is so precocious that at first I wondered if the author had ever met an 8 year old, but Swede's family is crazy about her, and I soon found her entirely lovable. Their father, Jeremiah, a promising medical student-turned janitor, has an unusually conversational relationship with the Lord. It's not just that he's devoutly religious, or even particularly eccentric. He holds dialogue with God that no one else is privy to (including the reader), at one point even going toe-to-toe in what appears to be an actual physical struggle. (He doesn't win.) Oh, and did I mention he works miracles? There are more characters of course, but these are the ones we get to know best. This family of "tender-hearted stoics" (another reviewer's phrasing) is drawn with such care and affection that they seem real — and wonderful. You want to bring them home and warm them up and feed them and, above all, listen to their story.World: The novel is set in the northern Great Plains during the harshest of winters, a place that is not hard to imagine for someone blessed to live in the temperate Pacific Northwest only because of the author's skill in describing winds so severe they create blizzards when it's not snowing, and temperatures so cold that 19° is considered "brisk." It's a great backdrop for the story, and the perfect contrast to a wondrous glimpse of the afterlife that comes late in the book.Story: Reuben's older brother Davy has been charged with murder, having shot and killed two boys who broke into their home with intent to do harm. When the trial takes a turn for the worse, Davy breaks out of jail and goes on the lam. His family follows him into the Badlands of North Dakota, a hostile world of superlative cold and also of fire and brimstone. They meet both comfort and tragedy along the way, and the story's conclusion shows the redemptive power of love and faith and family.Language: Leif Enger has an exceptional talent with language. The tone is conversational, and the word choice is always spot-on. The language is surprisingly literary, employing such wisdom and clarity that sometimes I found myself reading a sentence over and over to let it roll around and sink in. He even makes up his own words sometimes, like "grayscape" and "smouch" which I think means "to swipe," as in, "I smouched some gingersnaps." And that leaves beauty. There is beauty in the language, in the place and time the language evokes, in character and in theme. It's a wise and thoughtful and faith-inducing book. I really liked this one. And it did remind me why I read fiction. It's a miracle of a book and I heartily recommend it.


Hands down, one of my favorite pieces of fiction. "Peace Like a River", the debut novel by Leif Enger, is a work of exceptional emotional power, written in prose as clean and concise as it is rich and deeply satisfying. Told through the eyes of 11 year-old Reuban Land, Enger infuses this modern day Western outlaw tale with the power of family bonds, of faith, and of miracles. Not since Harper Lee's Atticus Finch and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird have there been characters as thoroughly good as Jeremiah Land, as heartbreakingly human as his son, Reuben and as endearingly fiesty as daughter Swede. From the opening page, Enger pulls the reader into a story full of miracles that in the hands of a lesser writer would be unbelievable. But believable it is, and its profound impact will stay with you long, long after the last page is turned.

Robert Beveridge

Leif Enger, Peace Like a River (Grove, 2001)Oh, what has happened to Grove Press? The folks that made their name publishing scandalous novels by James Joyce, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, and the like publishing what may be the least controversial novel of the last ten years? It hurts my heart, folks, it really does. Please, Grove, stick to what you know.It wouldn't be so bad if there were more about this piece of smarmy claptrap to like. I haven't decided whether this is a good thing or a bad thing yet (I'm grudgingly leaning towards the former). Enger's writing style allows for long lapses in anything actually happening. Just when I'm ready to throw the book against the wall, however, he perks right back up again and things start going well for a few pages, then it's back into the depths of... well, the void. That's about the only way I can put it.Reuben Land is an asthmatic eleven-year-old (or, at least, he is in the novel; one of the more amusing things I'm finding about most reviews is that they seem to have skipped over the fact that he WAS an asthmatic eleven-year-old at the time of the novel, but he's telling the story as an adult, which makes the comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, etc. specious at best) with a father who can perform miracles, a sister who's a writing prodigy, and a brother who's your basic teenager in the small-town American Midwest in 1962. After Reuben's father stops two town thugs from raping a girl, they seek revenge on the family. The teenager's reaction to this is what sets up the rest of the novel; it's probably not a spoiler any more, but I won't say anything just in case.The plotline with Davy (the teenager) is by far the most interesting thing about the novel. When Enger is writing this, his prose rises off the page and compels the reader to keep going. Unfortunately, it's a minor point in the general scheme of things; Enger seems far more interested in writing an episode of Seventh Heaven where the family's father is actually Jesus. Except Seventh Heaven, for all its many many faults, has more wit, more compassion, and less preaching than does Peace Like a River.I was willing to give this mess two stars, mostly because Enger can write well when he tries, and a couple of his characters are perfectly drawn, but then I got to the ending. Of all the endings I would have projected for this novel, Enger took the most predictable, most syrupy-sweet, most clichéd ending he possibly could, then tried to pass it off and something epic and grandiose. Even if the rest of the book had been perfect, the ending is such a miserable failure that I'd recommend skipping the whole novel, unless you seek out smarminess and predictability.The purpose of a great novel is to challenge the reader, make the reader think, open the reader's eyes and make the reader look at things from a new perspective. All in all, I can't say I've come across another book this year that fails so miserably in all those capacities as does Peace Like a River. * ½

Robin Sampson

Excellent. A beautifully written novel. One of those books that you hate to end and stays with you for years. You will be inspired. I couldn't wait to see what happened next.Rueben's (motherless) family world is transformed by bullies and the hell they create. His older brother, Davy Land, gives his life to protect his family, is arrested and then on the lamb. Rueben's sickly father loves the Lord and believes in miracles. They go off to find the Davy. Amazing characters. Deep, with high morals. Loved it.


I think my new litmus test for a 5th star is whether I want to immediately start reading the book again. I loved this story, and the characters, and every drop of Enger's highlighter-worthy prose. Reuben, the narrator, is such an honest voice and I must say I couldn't get enough of his sister, Swede's, dialog and writing. I wish Mr. Enger would put down for me all of Swede's future literary works.


I'm rereading this again for a book club I'm hosting. It is one of my all-time favorite books because it has GREAT writing, a wonderful message, a twisting plot and has laugh out loud parts. When people ask me for a book to read, this is the first one I recommend.


I loved, loved, loved this book! The characters were so well developed, the language smooth and inviting, and the storyline thought provoking. We moved right in the middle of my reading so I would have to go days before I could pick it up again, but I could always slide right back into the story like I had never left. I borrowed this from my mom but I will buy my own copy so I can read it again!

Jason Caldwell

The story is told by an eleven year old boy named Reuben and takes place in the early sixties. His father is a religious man full of faith. His mother is not part of the story. His younger sister is an amazing poet and a talented writer at only 8 years of age with an affinity for anything western especially western novels like those by Zane Grey. His older brother flees town to avoid legal trouble. When the family gets the chance to go west to try and find him they pack up all they own and head west just like the children of Israel trusting that God will lead them in the right direction and care for them on their journey. The story is entertaining and uplifting. While Enger’s writing style is pleasant there is a quote near the end of the book where Reuben’s sister Swede tells him, “Drift is the bane of epilogues”. Drift is a common element in this story. Throughout the book there are multiple examples of the author drifting away from the story line for a period of time which can be slightly bothersome when you just want him to get on with the story.

Lisa Nelson

My dearly departed Grandma Helen said this was a book, "For all I Love." Since she loved me best of all her 42 grandchildren, and I was her top Goodreads friend I had to pick it up. Her review stated, "Just beautiful, glorious, and grand." I couldn't agree more. I clicked, "like" on her review and I hope she still gets my updates in Heaven. Speaking of Heaven, this book has some really wonderful religious themes full of lots of Biblical references and miracles. After recently reading, "How to read Literature Like a Professor," I realize I'm still missing a lot but, not as much as I used to. This book had plenty of hidden meanings. It was humorous and the turns of phrase were easy on the ears. The ending took the book from a 3 1/2 star book (it was a little slow at times) to a 4 1/2. The book really shined with the family relationships. What wonderful expressions of love.


Another murder, another bleak landscape. But this book I really enjoyed. Narrated by Reuben, 11 years old, who is on a trek with his 9 yr old sister Swede, an intrepid poet, and his father Jeremiah, worker of wonders every now and then, to find his older brother Davy who's running from the law. What seems like a dark and depressing premise ends up being a sobering but ultimately hopeful story of a unique family that truly loves one another, each in their own way. I would definitely recommend it.

Becky Rhoads

Just finished this book. Highly recommend it! It is a very creative story, full of wonderful prose, and characters you come to love, admire and hate. Very interesting spiritual theme running throughout the book. It is clear the author has some understanding of the miraculous! This is certainly not a story that has what we would call a happy ending, but surprises you and on some level it makes sense. And the ending is not even the most important thing - it is walking the journey with these characters that brings joy in the reading, and though it is fiction, they seem as real as anyone we might know.One of my favorite parts of the book is near the beginning, soon after the main character, an 11 year old boy named Reuben, is born and lives though the dr. who delivered him pronounced him dead when his lungs failed to inflate. I knew I would like the book after reading these lines:"Peeping chicks at Easter time, spring generally, a clear sunrise after an overcast week - a miracle, people say, as if they've been educated from greeting cards. I'm sorry, but nope.Such things are worth our notice every day of the week, but to call them miracles evaporates the strength of word. Real miracles bother people . . . they rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing out of the grave - now there's a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks . . . A miracle contradicts the will of the earth. My sister, Swede, who often sees to the nub, offered this: People fear miracles because they fear being changed - though ignoring them will change you also." Read it!

Douglas Wilson

One of the most satisfying novels I have read.

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