Title: A Separate Peace
Author: John Knowles
Blurb: An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to the second world war.
Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.
Me: Out of all the required reading books I have had to read, my definite favorite. A true story of the complexity and intricacies of human relationships.
The Ups: The characters! Gene Forrester makes the list as one of my favorite main characters of all time. There are many disputes over Gene's character- if he's terrible, if he's evil, if he's human, etc. However, I like him both as a character and a person. Why?
To me, Gene reflects a part of all human beings and expresses it beautifully. At the fundamental core of everything he does, and therefore all the problems in the book, there is a deep self-contempt. He is so incredibly insecure of who he truly is and is in emotional turmoil due to the constant confusion of his identity. He recognizes that he has flaws, but almost seems to focus too much on them, wanting to escape himself through others. In this way, I understood him. I could relate to his inner feelings of insecurity and confusion, although I feel like I (and every other person) express that slightly differently. He was such a fascinating character- so incredibly human.
On the other hand, Phineas was so sure of himself, bursting with confidence. I found him almost unrealistic, until I saw his flaw of not being able to see anything but good in other people. The two best friends together, along with the envy, suspicion, and guilt, made for one of the best developed friendships I have ever read.
Knowles can write. I have such respect for the beautiful literary decisions made in this novel. The diction, tone, and the descriptions are phenomenal. The symbolism of World War II and war on the inside and peace was well woven in as well.
Overall: A beautifully written classic with interesting characters and an important message.
I felt that I was not, never had been and never would be a living part of this overpoweringly solid and deeply meaningful world around me.
Rating: 5 kisses!