My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don’t read as much fiction as I would like to, so my comparisons aren’t as good as some others’ are. You might keep that disclaimer in mind, but for me it’s hard to think of a novel that I’ve read that was as compelling as this one. This chronicle of the Land family drew me in right away. Within 40 pages or so, I felt that I knew the major characters really well just through Enger’s narrative (both pleasant and detail-rich) of their lives, told from the perspective of the middle child. Throughout the book, the major and minor characters felt very human: complex, limited, imperfect, some admirable, some not. Watching the father live out his Christian faith in trying circumstances is a real treat, as is reading about the family’s life from the perspective of a character who knows his own weaknesses. Getting to know the Land family was a lot like getting to know people in real life: you just have to interact with them in their daily lives.
You can see Doug Wilson’s review of Peace Like a River here: http://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-c…, which is where I heard of the book first. I think that I came by the observation of how quickly I got to know the characters honestly; it’s just too startling not to notice.