3 of 5 stars to A Separate Peace, a novel written in 1959 by John Knowles. I suspect if I were to re-read this “classic” again now, it has a chance of getting a higher rating; however, I’m not in a rush to prove the theory. I have a few good memories of the story, some a bit “blah,” but overall… it was a decent book. When I read The Secret History last year, I had vague recollections of this being somewhat similar, though the topics are quite different.
At the core, this is a coming-of-age story focused on Gene and Finny, two polar opposite boys at a prep school around the time of WW2. An accident occurs which may have been deliberate, thus becoming the focus of the story. As a result of the accident, one of the characters suffers an injury that prevents him from continuing on his path to the Olympics. Friends take sides. Families wonder. But the friends try not to question it. Until other people force them to. And in the end, there is pain, death, forgiveness and unexpected consequences.
The book is a good juxtaposition of lifestyles and choices. It makes you think about what you’d do in such a situation. How far can one person be pushed? And when you do something wrong, do you tell anyone, especially if you can get away with it? Lots to teach young adults, learning to make their own decisions and set a path for their life.
I enjoyed the story, but I would have preferred a more modern setting. I’m not a fan of excessive sports or war, and these were two central themes in the book, which ultimately led me to feel partially disconnected. But the parts inside the character’s head, questioning motives, being psychological in their analysis, were the ones worth reading.
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