It's been weeks since I read this book, and yet I keep forgetting to write a review for it. Why? Well, for starters, I usually have the book around and its presence reminds me to review it. Not so with this novel, which I have bought three times while traveling for my own novel, and given away twice before I could get it home with me. It's just that kind of book, where you want to go "oh man, take this."
To call it a Western is to scare off everyone who finds Clint Eastwood a little bit of a turn off. No, this is an atmospheric novel about a family split by unusual circumstances: Davy, the eldest son, shoots two intruders in the night and goes into hiding from the law. Told from the point of view of Davy's younger brother, Reuben, the story is spiritual, heartbreaking, and joyful. The care that Leif Enger takes with the sibling relationship is stunning; all of the relationships in this book are done with a sort of flawless subtlety. The humor is also subtle and occasionally -- surprisingly -- laugh-out-loud.
The last third of the book meanders more than I would like, but I'm afraid the characters (oh Swede!) are just too fantastic for me to not give this four stars. Because it will be a reread. I promise you that. I highly recommend you go out and buy it (if I haven't managed to give you a copy first).
***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite books -- not every book I read. Consider a novel's presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement. I can't believe I just said "hearty." It sounds like a stew.***