That is Virgil Wander for me. I’m afraid of my next book because the story Leif Enger created is too good, too perfect, too hard to leave.
(I do now plan to read anything else Leif Enger has written, including his grocery list if I can get it!)
Virgil Wander, you see, is a man of never defined age who wanders, there are some fantastic themes running through this novel, through life until he splurges and buys a failing old movie theater called the Empress in a tiny, seemingly failing town on Lake Superior. And then, in a storm, he drives off the road and into icy water. The novel is not so much about his survival as it is about the life he lived compared to the life he could life compared to the life he wants to live. It is about the community he lives in, and how he is a part of it.
The characters Enger creates in this novel, from Virgil himself on down to ones who died before the story behinds, are so incredibly vivid and unique. Even the scenes in story that might seem small and insignificant are packed with deeper meaning. The underlying meaning and message of the novel seems to be that community is family, even if you don’t realize it in the moment. Virgil, for example, knew he lived in Greenstone and had a few close friends. After he survives the accident, he begins to find out just how much he meant to the people in town.
It’s heartwarming. It’s heartwarming because we all need this. We need to know what we mean to the people around us. We need to tell them what they mean to us.
And we all need to read this book, because I don’t want to be the only one dreaming of bike riding with Virgil, fishing for giant sturgeon with Galen, snowplowing with Lily, and flying fantastic kites with Rune.
Please, people, read this book. I know I will read it again. And again.
I received an uncorrected proof of Virgil Wander through BookishFirst in exchange for an honest, original review.