Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
Peace Like a River
by Leif Enger, Grove Press, 2001
Reviewed by Richard J. McGowan
Award-winning Peace Like a River is
leisurely storytelling at its best. Reuben Land, an asthmatic
eleven year-old, recounts his midwestern family and bears witness
to faithful love.
Reuben's account of the land is a thing of beauty. No wonder:
Leif Enger grew up in Osakis, Minnesota and still lives in
Minnesota. Accuracy and affection come natural for the places of
Those places, as folks with any lick of sense know, are not
always geographical. Enger wrote to entertain his family; he gave
Reuben asthma to encourage his own asthmatic son. Fittingly, the
Lands live in the "timeless arena of family love," as one reviewer
Yet, they suffer misfortune. Reuben's mom has abandoned her
husband, Jeremiah, and her children. The family endures hateful
acts and suffers injustice. Jeremiah loses his job. Reuben and his
younger sister assume adult responsibility. The problem of evil
also appears in the villainous characters of Jape Waltzer and
Other characters demonstrate that it is good to "Love your
enemy," putting faith to the test.
Nonetheless, Jeremiah's faith remains steadfast. And what faith
it is: Reuben witnesses his father's miraculous acts-mending torn
leather of a saddle, walking on air while praying, healing the man
who fired him. Reuben's role as witness is the central theme, yet
Reuben cannot 'press belief.' The book's last line: "Make of it
what you will."
Peace Like a River meanders tenderly and engages the heart.
Enger understands the everyday miracle of love.
- Richard McGowan is Instructor of Business Ethics at Butler