Q: Although the narrator tells the story in retrospect, we see the world through the eleven- year old eyes of Reuben. The morning of his sentencing, Davy–a hero to some, a cold-blooded murderer to others–escapes from his cell, and the Lands set out in search of him. Swede said another thing, too, and it rang in me like a bell: No miracle happens without a witness. It echoes the essence of restorative power found in great literature.” –Lorraine Lindahl, The Minnesota Senior News, “The amalgam of strong characters, Biblical illusions, and great epic storytelling makes this novel hard to put down.” – Rachelle Lasky Bilz, Teacher Librarian, “The miraculous and the mundane are woven together seamlessly. But the ruinous thing about growing up is that we stop creating mysteries where none exist, and worse, we usually try to deconstruct and deny the genuine mysteries that remain. Myers News-Press, “A stunning novel about faith, miracles and a family that is ultimately miraculous. Born with a severe case of asthma, Reuben Land, our young hero and narrator, must often struggle to bring air into his lungs. 9. Time Magazine–Best Books of 2001 Can you suggest any way(s) these different places inform the story, or the interior lives of its participants? Lin’s the better hitter, and also taught me most of what I know about writing fiction. Also, without my own family it’s doubtful I could’ve written convincingly of Jeremiah’s relationship with his children, or with Roxanna. Leif Enger was raised in Osakis, Minnesota, and worked as a reporter and producer for Minnesota Public Radio for nearly twenty years. What are Jeremiah’s strengths, as a person and a parent? The family’s name, Land, even suggests this. That wasn’t difficult because twice in my life, at 13 and again at 21,” I had isolated, terrifying asthmatic episodes — times when breathing was wrenching muscular effort and I didn’t dare go to sleep. ©2020, GROVE ATLANTIC, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. If you’re a devotee of boys’ adventure books–bruised innocents confronting scoundrels round every bend–all the better. 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. Consider the details of the double homicide committed by Davy, Reuben’s older brother. What role do they play in Peace Like a River? Set in the early ’60s in the upper Midwest, this novel is the source for great discussions on religious overtones, family issues, and life in that era.” –Corey L. Hiseler, Between the Covers Bookstore, Telluride, CO, Book Sense quote, A Book Sense Reading Group Suggestion Peace Like a River is set mainly in rural Minnesota and the Badlands of North Dakota during the early 1960s. I hadn’t been back to the Chicago area since I had graduated from a college in a nearby suburb in 1970. For instance, when remembering a prayer he said that included blessings for even his enemies, Reuben comments thus regarding Jape Waltzer: “Later I would wish I’d spent more time on him particularly” (p. 285). “On November 22 the ship was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. I’ve got joy like a fountain, On a personal note, this was a hymn often sung on Sunday evenings in my congregation as I was growing up. Reign of Christ/Thanksgiving Sunday, Year A, Company's Coming Are you about to burst, or maybe even a little frightened? Conclude your discussion by comparing and contrasting Peace Like a River with the traditional morality play”the symbolic drama (dating back to medieval times) based on the eternal struggle between Good and Evil. Kids have a dead-on instinct for what makes a good story (outlaws on horseback, hidden treasure, secret caves, dynamite) and Robin, who would rather praise than criticize, was always brave enough to recognize when I’d gotten off track or written needless pages. Print and download I've Got Peace Like a River sheet music composed by Traditional. San Francisco Chronicle–Best Seller But the waiting’s been relaxed and pleasant. In any family there’s the real unfolding of life, and then there are the rewrites, the way each person tells himself what happened. Swede may be literature’s most unforgettable little girl since Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.”—Gail Pennington, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “If you like a ripping good story told in robust prose that gives you goose bumps, latch onto this book – more than a novel of miracles, it is truly a miraculous novel.” –Valerie Ryan, The Seattle Times, “Enger has written a novel that’s boldly romantic and unabashedly appealing, a collage of legends from sources sacred and profane–from the Old Testament to the Old West, from the Gospels to police dramas. The story of a father raising his three children in 1960s Minnesota, Peace Like a River is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, a love story, and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world. When you are seven years old there’s nothing as lovely and tragic as telling your friends you were just about dead once. It is HIS divine will that young people come to faith in Jesus Christ and find salvation through the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring them to faith. Reuben struggles with debilitating asthma from then on, making him a boy who knows firsthand that life is a gift, and also one who suspects that his father is touched by God and can overturn the laws of nature. When I was born to Helen and Jeremiah Land, in 1951, my lungs refused to kick in. I’ve got peace like a river in my soul. 14. Her personality is so vibrant that she feels very real. 12. Ministry-To-Children.com helps you tell kids about Jesus by providing age-appropriate Bible study material and Sunday School curriculum – all 100% free online. Perseverance. The hymn came to life for me in the summer of 1981. Peace Like a River deserves a huge audience, it’s that good. Identify a few of these stories-within-the-story, explaining how each enriches or influences the main narrative. My father wasn’t in the delivery room or even in the building; the halls of Wilson Hospital were close and short, and Dad had gone out to pace in the damp September wind. Recovering from a near-fatal asthmatic collapse, Reuben muses: “The infirm wait always, and know it” (p. 290). . Enger’s lyrical language, spirited allusions to old-time outlaws and provocative biblical references . What does she provide that the Lands had lacked before her arrival? . Explain how the novel’s dual themes of familial love and ardent faith are met in this character. Years later Dr. Nokes would tell my brother Davy that my delivery still disturbed his sleep. . She was wailing–I picture her as an old woman here, which is funny, since I was never to see her as one–and old Nokes was attempting to ease her grief. He left my face uncovered. In “Be Jubilant, My Feet,” the next-to-last chapter, Reuben and Jeremiah enter a world beyond this one. It was unavoidable, he was saying; nothing could be done; perhaps it was for the best. Boston Globe–Best Seller So much world and sky is visible it’s hard to put much stock in your own influence — it’s a perfect landscape for cultivating gratitude. Q: Reuben’s sister, Swede, is perhaps the most engaging character in the book and the only female in the motherless Land family. It’s got that pure American loss of innocence theme, that belief in and fascination with miracles, that insistence on the goodness of men outside of the law.” –Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review. When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know a It is well, it is well, with my soul. Prayer is described in many ways, and on many occasions, in Peace Like a River. I was lying uncovered on a metal table across the room. Does Reuben see Davy as a murderer, or as one who acted in self-defense? His lungs can’t fill.”, Dad leaned down, laid me back on the table, took off his jacket and wrapped me in it–a black canvas jacket with a quilted lining, I have it still. I’ve got peace like a river in my soul I’ve got a river in my soul. Watch the video clip below to learn the song, then try it with your preschool Sunday School class. Los Angeles Times–Best Seller The final miracle in Peace Like a River occurs, of course, when Jeremiah surrenders his life for Reuben. A: I hope even skeptical readers will enjoy the novel, but my own suspicion is that miracles, big obvious ones as well the more comfortable variety (kittens in springtime, Puckett’s homer in Game Six) are underway around us. Q: Also, while the book is contained geographically within western Minnesota and the Dakotas, a variety of landscapes are described: the town, the country, and open road, and the nearly mystical place of snow and steam where the family occasionally gathers. Can this analogy be applied to any of the other characters? The author, Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888), was a Presbyterian layman from Chicago. He’d never seen a child with such swampy lungs. 3. Among his close friends were several evangelists including the famous Dwight L. Moody, also from Chicago. When Dad skidded into the room, Dr. Nokes was sitting on the side of the bed holding my mother’s hand. But why, at an earlier point in the story, does Reuben observe, “Since arriving at [Roxanna’s] house, we’d had no miracles whatever” (p. 257). Q: Magic plays such a great role in this story. When sorrows like sea billows roll; The other characters are also composites of adventurers among my family and friends, of coworkers, of people met once and not forgotten. What happens to them? Q: Setting is so important in this novel. If so, where? He pounded my back; he rolled me over and massaged my chest. A miracle contradicts the will of earth. Returning to Chicago 11 years later, the memories of the Vietnam War were fresh on my mind. How you yowled! In a saga reminiscent of Job, his son died a short time before his financial disaster. How is his waiting resolved? Discuss how the novel explores the idea of loyalty. Book Sense–76 Selection Refrain It is well, (it is well), With my soul, (with my soul) It is well, it is well, with my soul. The fact is, the miracles that sometimes flowed from my father’s fingertips had few witnesses but me. Are there certain personal characteristics that you think arise from the upper Midwest, from Minnesota in particular? But the worst was yet to come. Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, Who accomplishes it? After decades of benevolent activities, the Colony ceased to be a communal society in the 1950s, though it continued in a second life as the American Colony Hotel, the first home of the talks between Palestine and Israel that eventually led to the 1983 Oslo Peace Accords. What are the parallels? In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago, but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre. There would be brain damage now. A little clay boy is what I was. Why lessen our joy by throwing out what the author of Hebrews called “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”? Finishing his story, Reuben notes: “You should know that Jape Waltzer proved as uncatchable as Swede’s own Valdez” (p. 309). Every kids church ministry deserves the very best resources for teaching God’s Word, even when they don’t have the financial resources. Though the hymn begins with loss, it ends in eschatological hope for the day when “faith shall be sight.”. We believe that God is the loving Father of all kids. Discuss the character of Jeremiah Land, Reuben’s father”and the center of his moral compass. We ended up publishing five books with Pocket and Simon & Schuster. “[Peace Like a River is] not so much an on-the-road story as one celebrating family and faith.” –Ft. A: Robin and the boys were the book’s first audience. But He made me run, Reuben. 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. Peace Like a River reminds a reader of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong or even Norman MacLean’s A River Runs Through It.

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