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

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!

Maggie Stiefvater

It's been weeks since I read this book, and yet I keep forgetting to write a review for it. Why? Well, for starters, I usually have the book around and its presence reminds me to review it. Not so with this novel, which I have bought three times while traveling for my own novel, and given away twice before I could get it home with me. It's just that kind of book, where you want to go "oh man, take this."To call it a Western is to scare off everyone who finds Clint Eastwood a little bit of a turn off. No, this is an atmospheric novel about a family split by unusual circumstances: Davy, the eldest son, shoots two intruders in the night and goes into hiding from the law. Told from the point of view of Davy's younger brother, Reuben, the story is spiritual, heartbreaking, and joyful. The care that Leif Enger takes with the sibling relationship is stunning; all of the relationships in this book are done with a sort of flawless subtlety. The humor is also subtle and occasionally -- surprisingly -- laugh-out-loud. The last third of the book meanders more than I would like, but I'm afraid the characters (oh Swede!) are just too fantastic for me to not give this four stars. Because it will be a reread. I promise you that. I highly recommend you go out and buy it (if I haven't managed to give you a copy first). ***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite books -- not every book I read. Consider a novel's presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement. I can't believe I just said "hearty." It sounds like a stew.***

Artemisia Hunt

Magnificent storytelling, beautiful writing and characters I will deeply miss.......Peace Like a River is an amazing book and I am still in awe of the power and beauty it contains.


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.


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.


I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. After reading the reviews here I thought I would hate it for sure..."schmaltzy" just doesn't appeal to me. But I didn't find the emotion of this book over the top. I thought the plot was both interesting and thoughtful, and completely aside from that, the writing was excellent. I've read much more poorly written books with thinner plots to complain about this one. I found Enger's writing style to be delightful and beautiful. The narrator was extremely engaging, the depictions vivid without getting bogged down in detail, and overall I wanted to keep reading less for the story and more because it was just enjoyable to hear Reuben tell it.As for the unbelievable aspects of the plot, they weren't such a hang up for me. Yes, it would have been easier to swallow if Swede had been, say, 5 years older, or if Reuben had at least acknowledged her precociousness and verbosity as not normal, but even though I had to suspend my disbelief in this regard, I still really liked her. Also, while usually it bothers me if a story wraps up too neatly, in this case I actually enjoyed it. Like I say, there are far worse books out there in the area of poorly conceived plots and unbelievable characters. I really enjoyed this book.

Jonathan Briggs

Remember the good old days? When bad and good were clearly defined black and white. When no one cursed or drank strong liquor. When children never sassed their parents. When no one had sex (or genitals). Well, me neither. But if there's anybody who does long for such a mythical time, have I got the "Boy's Life" adventure for you! In Leif Enger's "Peace Like A River," young Reuben Land lives in the Midwest with his father, who is touched by God to the point where he glows in the dark; his sister, Swede (read: Scout), who writes precociously nauseating epic cowboy poetry; and his hot-tempered older brother, Davy, who guns down two plot contrivances and has to go on the lam. The cornpone (or whatever the Midwestern equivalent) gets mighty thick in this novel, which is sorely in need of some grit and ambiguity. It's trite and it's obvious and it's soaked in the flop sweat of struggling to live up to predecessors such as "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "Plainsong." Every so often, Enger drops a line that suggests future improvement as a novelist, but he's more likely to sound like someone who grew up listening to too many overheated radio plays. "Who understands such hatred as bedeviled that doomed visitor?" Only The Shadow knows!!! That's not even good pulp. Gee golly gosh geewhillickers!!! How Enger does love his exclamation points!!!! That way the reader knows this is sure exciting stuff!!!! The Land family lives by a facile brand of faith based on the constant miracles God performs for them. It's no great feat to believe when God entertains you with a steady stream of magic tricks. Faith is hard, sometimes heartbreaking, work. Faith is hanging onto your belief when nothing makes sense and God doesn't seem to be taking your calls. Enger tries to say something profound about faith in his book, but instead he trivializes it.

Melanie Jacobson

I think this was phenomenal. I'm still thinking about it days later. Beautiful writing, story-telling, great characters and it really did feel peaceful.


I don't know what to rate this!This book made me cranky. It is beautifully written, almost poetic. It reminds me of the style of "How Green Was My Valley." There's a strong, wise father figure. A boy coming of age. An older brother who makes a dubious choice. A shocking death. Many inspiring quotables. It's a book about the power of faith--I think.It's really made me wonder about why I closed it feeling unsettled and unhappy.I think it's because it was almost too real. The characters in it are so believable I feel like they are my cousins or something--in real life! So the discouraging, painful things that happen to these characters seem to have actually happened to people I care about. It was really disturbing!Much of my reading now is to give my mind and emotions rest. I love to read deeply written, thoughtful books, but I want that cathartic experience of being taken away from my own troubles. This book made me feel like I was adding to my troubles!Maybe I'm crazy, but when I finished the book last night, I was angry at the author for making me care so much about these wonderful people who did not have a happy or peaceful life.


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.


This was an amazing book. So well written, with such a fresh voice, and a powerful message that life is...well, life, full of good and bad and everything in between.

barbara b

A book for a reading group does give one the opportunity to read things one wouldn't necessarily choose for oneself. Such is the present case. Many have found this book wonderful, the writing splendid, and the topics introduced important and compelling. I do not share this view. I found the book slow going, sentimental at times and wishy-washy at others. Some characters were believable, but didn't get my sympathy. Other characters were just not real (the genius little sister for one). The big questions had no answers. Some may say that that's life. There are no answers. But I am uncomfortable with such relativism and believe it more cowardice on the author's part not to impart a clear point of view than artistry, allowing his creation to wallow in moral and spritualistic ambiguity. Oh, well.


The characters in this story felt so real to me. I read this book on audio, on my ipod, and the performance was excellent. The voice of Reuben, the 11-yr-old, was clear and compelling and wise beyond years. Swede, his sister, was also unique and special as a poet, teller of wild west tales, and best friend. The father, Jeremiah, was someone I felt I wanted to meet and know. The only character really hard to know was Davy, who just wasn't around enough, but I could still picture him well through the love of his little brother. Reuben, the narrator, has asthma, which hits him periodically; he describes so perfectly the feeling of his struggles for air. He believes that his dad has sometimes performed minor miracles, and on several occasions the reader finds it easy to believe also. This story takes place in the midwest, in about 1963. The older brother Davy kills local boys who invade their home, and is put on trial for murder (the one part of the story that made no sense to me at all...) He escapes from his cell, and this is where the story really takes off, because his family leaves home also to travel west, hoping to find him. It has the feeling of an epic, an unpredictable tale of hope, fear, loss, love, and family. What a sad but somehow hopeful and totally engrossing story. I'm reminded of how I felt reading "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle".This was a special story, one that I'll remember for a long time.


** 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.

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.

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