Leif Enger wrote this best-selling novel in 2001. It is about the Land family’s journey to be reunited after a violent act forced them apart. The narrator, Reuben Land, is an 11 year old with severe asthma who perseveres through many difficulties. Enger wrote Reuben as an asthmatic in order to encourage one of his children, who also suffered from the disease. The title of the novel comes from the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul,” and the book has numerous religious undertones throughout.
After publication in 2001, Peace Like a River won many awards including the ALA Alex Award for best adult novel for teens, the Independent Publisher Book Award, and was selected by the Independent Booksellers of America for the Book Sense Book of the Year for Adult Fiction. Additionally, Time Magazine and the Los Angeles Times named the novel one of the Best Books of 2001. Peace Like a River was also on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Denver Post, and Publishers Weekly.