Sunday, April 27, 2008

On-Line Book Club--Peace Like a River

Tiffany hosted an on-line book club this past month and the book she chose was "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger. If you click over to her blog, there is her review as well as others. If want to add your own review, let her know.

I really wanted to like this book. I don't know why I felt compelled to want to like it but in the end, it left me unsatisfied, so I have to say the book did nothing for me. It started slow for me but encouraged by several of my other friends who have read it and liked it, I pressed on. I kept on thinking, "This will get better and I won't be so annoyed by all of the characters." But, truth be known, by the end of the book, they all bothered me the same as when I started it and it didn't wrap up in a good way for me. I kept waiting for some obvious redemption that never came.

A small point but one that bothered me almost from the beginning was the father's job. Maybe because I have witnessed this in the lives of many of my friends when we attended a graduate student ward when my husband was in dental school, but when we learned the father dropped out of medical school to become a janitor, I about lost it. I have seen so many of my friends struggle with their spouses through school only to have their husband's choose a different path--changing the plan entirely on them. Almost as if saying, "Yes, I told you one thing but now that you are married to me and we have a child or two, and you are full invested in this relationship, I am going to completely change the plan." The mother shouldn't have abandoned her children, but I understood her pain and actions in leaving.

If Davy hadn't callously shot Tommy with the 3rd shot, I might have had more empathy for him but that third shot showed his blood thirst, not a protective older brother. And, later when he brings Reuben to his hideout to be exposed to Jape Waltzer's cruelty, there was no protective older brother behavior. Davy seemed to be brain stem driven. His decision to kill those too boys was not a moral, protective one but a "I do what I want to do" decision.

On a positive note, I will say the writing was beautiful and I loved the poetry laced through out the book written by Swede. But beautiful writing can only carry a book so far. Sorry, Tiffany, not a fan of this book.


love.boxes said...

Thanks for sticking with it anyway. This has actually become a favorite book of mine.

One thing that might help (maybe) with the Jeremiah character is that he is supposed to be a type of a prophet... possibly a type of christ. There is a lot of biblical symbolism in this book.

Jeremiah (whose name means he who God has lifted up) has an experience similar to that of Moses when he visits the burning bush (when Jeremiah is lifted up in the tornado)and thereafter his mission is changed. He now no longer looks for glory for himself (not that that is what all Doctors are after.. I think the author is just trying to find a modern day way of explaining it), but finds ways to "wash the feet" to do the most humble tasks, but then he has the power to heal.. i.e. the Superintendant.

However, you make a really good point because how did the wife of Moses like wandering in the wilderness for 40 years? She was married to a man who could have been the king of Egypt. And, I think that Davy felt for his mother.. felt some of her dissapointment and some of her confusion and some of her embarassment and that clouded his view of seeing what he really was.. Anyway, that's my take on that part. Did I change your mind any.. or do you still hate him? :)

Circe said...

I'm so glad you posted a review. I agree, I didn't lide Davy, but I loved Reuben. The story was sad for me, but the writing was beautiful, and it's a great book club book, just because it strikes people so many different ways. Are you going to do Glass Castle with us?

Noelle said...

hi janice! now i found your blog too! i love finding people's blogs - it's definitely the best way to keep up on everyone and stay in touch...

Circe said...

You're up for the June book review. Choose a book and let us know what it is. This is fun!