I first read this last August and wanted to re-read it before reading Leif Enger's next book. I really liked it the first time I read it and really Loved it then second time. How often can you say that about a book??
The story is about a family living in Minnesota in the early 1960's. There is a tragedy-I won't go into details about it but it is followed by the eldest son running from the law and the family following behind, trying to find him.
I love the way he phrases things, I love that he includes religion and faith and miracles in a way that is not condescending or overly religious but just as a part of life, I love the characters, and I love how I came away really thinking about the book and what the author was trying to convey: faith, hope, loyalty, miracles and probably many others I haven't thought of yet.
Okay, at times he ventures into the unbelievable with the miracles and there is no way that Swede is only 9, but not only can I forgive him for those things but they increased my enjoyment of the book. If everything were strictly realistic then what is the point of fiction? And some of my very favorite parts come from Swede and her poetry which she uses to express her feelings about what is going on in her family. For example, after her brother leaves and is being pursued by law enforcement, she tries to kill off the villain in her poetry and is unable to, and the hero lawman ends up in prison.
I have recently been asked to recommend books for a book club and included this one in that list. I had thought that I would write some questions to go along with it and then found out that there are some already written: http://www.groveatlantic.com/
This is probably my favorite book that I read in 2008. I highly recommend it! Rated PG-13 only because of the execution-style killings, and some other incidences of violence. Everything else is very clean.