Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Miracles Flow in Peace Like a River
As we dug into the depths of Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger, one theme seemed to surface most often: Miracles. This book was full of miracles, which our readers considered and explained in all sorts of ways. Marsha led us through our discussion, which seemed to keep circling around to one or another miracle as part of the plot or subplot. She told us that the author grew up with parents who had strong Christian beliefs but were not outwardly religious and did not go to church. This family attitude was similar to that of the family depicted in the story. This book is considered a mainstream novel, not in the strictly Christian genre, but is accepted by many Christians as a religious testament. Looking at reviews of the book and searching online, it is obvious that this is yet another book that our group has chosen that could easily fill a semester of college-level interpretation. Think what fun you might have had writing a semester paper about this one!
Miracles in Peace Like a River begin with the narrator's birth: Reuben almost died at birth, and it was his father, Jeremiah's, strength of faith that kept him alive. That is the implication. We batted it around a bit. Reuben didn't breathe for 12 minutes, which pushes the usual 10-minute envelope for brain damage; it seems within the realm of possibility but also what most of us would call a miracle. With such a beginning and a character named "Jeremiah," 6 members at the meeting said that the beginning of the book made them expect proselytizing in the book. All said they didn't find that to happen and that they liked the book. Once again, our book club members powered through the part that might cause them to put the book down if they weren't reading for book discussion, and were rewarded for it!
When we talked about Jeremiah walking on air, Ken noted that this was seen through Reuben's eyes. Janice suggested that Reuben saw miracles and that was why there were miracles. Pam thought that Reuben would be likely to see his father as miraculous because he knew the story of the miracle his father supposedly performed at his birth. So these ideas begged the question as to whether the miracles in the book were meant to be taken literally.
When Amy brought up the question as to why Jeremiah healed the (undeserving but who am I to judge?) superintendent of his boils but did not heal own son's asthma, we got into the idea of Jeremiah having no control over his healing gift. Thus, the gift became both more realistic but also more potentially stemming from a power beyond the literal world. Carla then brought up the idea of the book as having Biblical allegorical qualities, such as Jeremiah turning the other cheek in his seeming decision to heal the superintendent, even as the superintendent was firing him from his job unreasonably. I was disappointed that the superintendent didn't change his tune at the time of the healing...but with miracles, it can take some time to sink in. Carla also suggested that when Reuben was having the asthma attack while wrestling with keeping the secret of Davy's whereabouts; Reuben's dream of a nasty little man on his chest might represent the devil.
The theme of Biblical allegory continued to surface in tandem with the miracles in our discussion. Ken agreed that the book had Biblical parallels, giving the examples of the walking on air correlating with walking on water, and the laying on of hands as a Biblical healing. Later Ken, in my humble opinion, clinched the Biblical allegory theory by suggesting that the heaven scene, where Jeremiah, the father, sacrificed his life to save his son, was opposite but certainly closely parallel to the story of the sacrifice of Jesus' life.
We covered other questions and answers in this simple-to-read but complex-to-understand novel. Another great live discussion, enjoyed by all!