Recently, I read Peace Like A River by Leif Enger.
It was one of the best recently written fiction books that I have read in a long time. At first, I wasn't sure about it - there is an element of willing suspension of disbelief required - but by the end I was very glad that I had read it.
Ruben struggles with asthma, and it frames his life. It was actually the descriptions of his asthma attacks that drew me into the story. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with asthma from allergies. I had been coughing for weeks, a dry cough with no other symptoms. Sometimes it was hard for me to catch my breath during these coughing fits. It was a very mild case, and after a couple of years it went away, but I still remember feeling out of breath as if I'd been running when I was standing still.
Ruben is the central character of the story. Many years ago, I remember reading a book about some children whose favorite books (yes, I read a book about children who were reading books) were the "I books." I have always called books written in the first person I books since. This is an I book. Through the events in the story, Ruben comes to have the faith of his father, from seeing the miracles that followed in his father's wake.
The story really starts rolling when Ruben's brother Davy breaks out of jail (he's been arrested and tried for a controversial crime). Ruben, his father, and his sister go looking for Davy. The events of this trip mature Ruben to the acceptance of his father's faith. There is a subtle theme throughout that because Ruben's father has displayed God's love in his life (not just to his family, but to the world, including enemies) Ruben finds it easier to believe. It was the character development of Ruben that solidified my love for this book. You can't help but love his family because Ruben loves them, but in the end it is Ruben who changes the most.
This book asks you to believe in modern miracles of biblical proportions. I recently completed a Bible study in which was discussed the fact that a lot of times we "modern" Christians don't believe in miracles in current times. I'm not talking about miracles for show; I'm talking about miracles like Jesus performed - quietly, without shouting and fanfare and vanity. In this Bible study, the opinion was submitted that perhaps we miss out on seeing miracles because our faith is too small. This is just one theme worthy of discussion after reading this book.
If I was going to rate this book on a scale of one to five, I would give it five stars! If you like to read at all, read THIS book!