Monday, May 12, 2008

Peace Like A River

Peace Like A River © 2001 by Leif Enger

Peace to all your households,

This is my first blog on this site, and I pray that it encourages and inspires.

When it comes to writing, I’m kind of like my husband. In this “some assembly required world” we live in, he never reads instructions—as least not until he gets stuck or finds one extra screw without a home. I sheepishly admit that I tend to put off the “how to” books for writers, and this out of sheer laziness. I’d rather be writing that reading about doing it. In the same breath, however, I boldly declare that as writers, we are in the business of forever honing a craft. It’s kind of like being a Christian—we can always find room for improvement, amen?

I have taken my share of writing courses and attended seminars, but I also look to successful novels for inspiration. Excluding super-sensationalistic, jump-on-the-band-wagon types, books that sell millions copies in either the CBA or ABA markets deserve a little research. For example, I learned a great deal about POV from the way Leif Enger crafted his debut novel, Peace Like A River.

I love the classics of American literature, so when I first aspired to writing, I imagined writing epic novels in the first person narrative. The trouble with those first efforts is that they were narratives, causing my early mentors to yank at their curls (EVERYONE had perms in those days), “Don’t tell me, show me!” Therein lies the paradox of effective first person narration—to show the reader the action while you’re telling them about it. At least it was until Leif Enger so poignantly demonstrated the first person narrative technique.

The story is narrated by Reuben Land, an eleven year old asthmatic. When his brother Davy is accused of murder, the family travels through Midwest searching for him; always staying a few steps ahead of Martin Andreeson, “the putrid fed” hot on Davy’s trail since he escapes from his jail cell. The novel is told from Reuben’s POV, which I find tremendously challenging about the first person narration—not to be able to slip into another POV for expository purposes, if nothing else. Reuben’s tender and innocent POV is really all we ever need.

Peace Like A River truly has is all action, romance, comedy—and don’t forget the Kleenex box either. And while you’re enjoying the book so much, remember that there is much to be learned from Mr. Enger’s writing.


  1. This is one of my top 10 of all time books. :-) Enger finally has a new book coming out this year!

  2. And they're finally coming out with the movie version of Peace Like A River in 2010!

  3. I need to get this book to read. I've heard of it, but never read it. I may check the library.

    So thankful God is with you, helping you get back into life. So glad you were able to blog this time. May God be praised.

  4. I'm so glad you were able to blog. I'm like you as I'd rather read a good book then read about craft.

    This sounds like a good book to read. I like the first person pov because it is easier to get into the story. I'll definitely look for it at the library and the movie store.


  5. I enjoyed your post. I'm with Janet. I've never heard of this author or book. I'm now going to have to read it!


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