book crush thursday: Peace Like A River

Dad turned back to me, a clay child wrapped in a canvas coat, and said in a normal voice, "Reuben Land, in the name of the living God I am telling you to breathe." -- Leif Enger, Peace Like a River

It sure is one thing to say you're at war with this whole world and stick your chest out believing it, but when the world shows up with its crushing numbers and its predatory knowledge, it is another thing completely. -- Peace Like a River

Sorry about the gap in posts... I've been under the weather all week. (I won't bore you with details: self pity is ugly to write about and ugly to read. Suffice to say, I'm slooowly getting better.) But I wouldn't miss Book Crush Thursday!

Okay. Chances are, you've already heard about Peace Like a River, by the incomparable Leif Enger. It was everywhere about nine years ago. You saw all the displays in the book stores, for months and months. You knew of book groups that were reading it, knew there were dozens of impassioned people calling it the best book ever... and still you walked on by.

If you're like me, that is. Snob that I am, my reasoning usually goes like this: if everyone else loves it, I probably won't.

I don't know why I'm wired like this. Maybe there's a smallish part of me that's a grumpy recluse, and is determined to hate what everyone else loves? I don't know. But in this case, I was very, very wrong.

It wasn't until it was assigned in a young adult literature class that I had to get over myself and read it. (Oddly enough, though the narrator is eleven years old, It's not a young adult book. Why was it part of the class? Probably because I needed to read this book.)

Oh my. I loved it. Loved it. The characters are stunning--Swede Land, the narrator's little sister--is one of my all-time favorite characters. Ever. I want to be like her when I grow up... even though she's nine years old.

So yes, the characters are brilliant, the adventurous plot is tense enough to keep me from putting it down, and Enger's prose is swoon-worthy. He's one of those writers I wish I were related to... couldn't he be my adoptive uncle or something? Some kind of third cousin? I'm still working on that.

I can't think of a better book for your summer reading list. In fact, wrapping yourself in Enger's world for a few days, you'll feel like you've been on some grand and marvelous vacation. Most of it takes place in winter. Do you love reading about winter during summer? I certainly do--it's like really cheap air conditioning.

Here's a little warning, though: don't read the back of this book. It sails out and gives away what happens on page 49. I guess in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter much, but why spoil it for yourself? If it's a mystery, then you can sit bolt upright, gasping, just like I did.

Can you believe-- I asked of others in our class. They looked back at me, a bit cold and pitying, saying Of course we knew about that already, it was on the back! So. If you like surprises, avoid the back.

Oof. Just writing about this book makes me want to read it all over again. And it makes me excited for you, if you haven't read it yet. It's the kind of book that makes you want to be a different sort of person... and you have to talk about it when you're done. No wonder it was a huge sensation.

Recommendation: This begs for something homey and good. Black coffee, I'd say, and an excellent cinnamon roll. Put a bit of coffee in the roll's frosting--I recommend PW's recipe. It's gorgeous, and perfect for this book. (Page 191, my friends.)

Enjoy. Really. This is a book to be savored.

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