Happy Tuesday! Today I have a review of Virgil Wander, the first novel in 10 years by Leif Unger, best-selling author of Peace Like a River, and publishing by Atlantic Monthly Press on October 2, 2018!

My Thoughts:

Virgil Wander, the main character, owns a movie theater and lives in small town Minnesota. He has a driving accident where his car lands in frigid Lake Superior. After the accident, his memory and language are impaired, and life is completely new to him. 

Virgil sets out to piece his life back together with information he can find outside himself. Through some quirky characters, he is able to fill in gaps, while he helps them revitalize their sleepy, bereft of business, but not of people, town. There are also side stories with the quirky characters that add intrigue and mystery like a missing husband/son. 

Virgil Wander is a charming story about healing: restoring Virgil to his former glory while also restoring the town and community. The tone is somber and wistful. I wanted these characters to find happiness, for Virgil to regain his language, because I connected to them in a genuine way. They felt real, and their longing was relatable. 

There were times I smiled at the happenings, some moments of humor and hope amidst the sadness, and those balanced out the melancholy. I did not want to leave my time in Greenstone. I grew attached to its people, especially to Virgil. That experience alone lets me know I was enamored with this story, his story. 

Thank you to Atlantic Monthly Press/Grove Press for the ARC. All opinions are my own. 


The first novel in ten years from award-winning, million-copy bestselling author Leif Enger, Virgil Wander is an enchanting and timeless all-American story that follows the inhabitants of a small Midwestern town in their quest to revive its flagging heart.

Midwestern movie house owner Virgil Wander is “cruising along at medium altitude” when his car flies off the road into icy Lake Superior. Virgil survives but his language and memory are altered and he emerges into a world no longer familiar to him. Awakening in this new life, Virgil begins to piece together his personal history and the lore of his broken town, with the help of a cast of affable and curious locals–from Rune, a twinkling, pipe-smoking, kite-flying stranger investigating the mystery of his disappeared son; to Nadine, the reserved, enchanting wife of the vanished man; to Tom, a journalist and Virgil’s oldest friend; and various members of the Pea family who must confront tragedies of their own. Into this community returns a shimmering prodigal son who may hold the key to reviving their town.

With intelligent humor and captivating whimsy, Leif Enger conjures a remarkable portrait of a region and its residents, who, for reasons of choice or circumstance, never made it out of their defunct industrial district. Carried aloft by quotidian pleasures including movies, fishing, necking in parked cars, playing baseball and falling in love, Virgil Wander is a swift, full journey into the heart and heartache of an often overlooked American Upper Midwest by a “formidably gifted” (Chicago Tribune) master storyteller.

Have you read Virgil Wander, or is it on your TBR? Have you read  Peace Like a River? Happy Reading! ~ Jenni THR