This is one of the best middle grade children's books I've read in a long…
Reuben Land grew up believing in miracles. He is eleven, living in rural Minnesota in the 1960s with his father and two siblings, when his older brother Davey shoots and kills two neighborhood bullies breaking into the house at night. The day before his trial verdict, Davey escapes, and his family drives out in search of him—led by equal parts Holy Spirit and meandering intuition. Along the way the reader is treated to bittersweet prose so beautifully written it’s a wonder to read. Enger sprinkles gems of poetic wisdom (“Fair is whatever God wants to do”), insights into human nature, and hilarious descriptions throughout. Part fictional memoir, part western adventure, part coming of age tale, the ending was powerful and heartbreaking and redemptive and perfect. Rarely does a book leave me in tears. I wanted to pick it right back up and read it again. Excellent and beautiful.
Here are some memorable quotes:
“Listening to Dad’s guitar, halting yet lovely in the search for phrasing, I thought: Fair is whatever God wants to do.”
“In this picture I saw no forgiveness for myself—not from Davey, not from Swede, not from anyone but Dad, who was so forgiving it almost didn’t count.”
“Once in my life I knew a grief so hard I could actually hear it inside, scraping at the lining of my stomach, an audible ache, dredging with hooks as rivers are dredged when someone's been missing too long. I have to think my mother felt something like that.”