Sunday, March 8, 2009

Peace Like a River

Or what I read in February.

I started to post about this book back when I finished it a few weeks ago. I planned to mostly include some quotes and ideas I loved in the book. But, first let me tell you the story line/plot is good but what you come to love most are the characters. The story is told by 11 year old Rueben Land and is a witness to his father's miracles. That's the long and short of it , but what an amazing story and what memorable characters!

"Let me say something about that word:miracle. For too long it's been used to characterize things or events that, though pleasant, are entirely normal. Peeping chicks at Easter time, spring generally, a clear sunrise ....Such things are worth our notice every day of the week, but to call them miracles evaporates the strength of the word.

"Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It's true:They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave- now there's a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time...A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.

"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. Swede said another thing, too, and it rang in me like a bell: No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare, Here's what I saw. Here's how it went. Make of it what you will.

"The fact is, the miracles that sometimes flowed from my father's fingertips had few witnesses but me. Yes, enough people saw enough strange things that Dad became the subject of a kind of misspoken folklore in our town, but most ignored the miracles as they ignored Dad himself.

"I believe I was preserved, through those twelve airless minutes in order to be a witness, and as a witness, let me say that a miracle is no cute thing but more like a swing of a sword.

"If he were here to begin the account, I beleive Dad would say what he said to Swede and me on the worst night of all our lives:
We and the world, my children, will always be at war.
Retreat is impossible.
Arm yourselves."
Highly recommended.

What else I read in February:
Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas
This is for our next bookclub meeting but also our Sunday School class is reading and discussing a chapter per week. I have read it straight through once and am now purposefully re-reading one chapter at a time and taking the short tests at the end of each chapter to judge my strengths in these areas. Breezing through the first time I was able to identify myself in several pathways- almost all- except three. I expect to find myself strongest in Intellectual, Ascetics and Sensates. We'll see.

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
If you haven't read anything by Richard Peck you are missing some fun. The Washington Post describes him as, "America's best living author for young adults." This story was fun and quirky about growing up to be what ever you want- the giving yourself permission.

"Oh, " I said, not knowing. "Do they let women be one of them Ph.D.s?"
Irene drew up. "They don't let women be anything, Eleanor. You have to give yourself permission."
Don't worry it's not militant feminism or anything, just a strong, sweet message everyone would want for their daughter. Last year I read The River Between Us by Peck and it was excellent, Civil War fiction.

And, finally, I read Leif Enger's second book: So Brave, Young, and Handsome. Very good in it's own way. A western, and I'm not much into westerns- but again the characters are intriguing,even winsome. I read the first 4 chapters or so in one sitting and I was positively charmed. Naturally, many of the characters are anything but charming as the story progresses...but I was hooked. One of the things I really appreciate about Enger is his realism. Actions have consequences and an individuals actions almost always involve consequences for others as well. That is real life, he doesn't white wash that- but he doesn't exploit with gore either. He is a gifted story teller. I hope he writes more. Here's Janet's review.

I know I have rambled on mostly about what I think about the books and not so much what they are about... that's what the links are for!

1 comment:

Janet said...

Now I want to read 'Peace Like a River' again! Maybe it's time for some rereading.

The Richard Peck books sound interesting too.