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A Separate Peace

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  154,503 Ratings  ·  5,222 Reviews
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 a
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Paperback, 204 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Scribner (first published 1959)
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Hunter Houle trust me, i go to an all boys boarding school....no sex lol you would be killed/executed for that behavior...especially at a catholic school. Just…moretrust me, i go to an all boys boarding school....no sex lol you would be killed/executed for that behavior...especially at a catholic school. Just joking...you will not find it though. (less)
Kylie George Rating wise, it is okay for a 13 year old. Unless you are very interested in this book I would wait a little bit. I am 16 now and am reading it for…moreRating wise, it is okay for a 13 year old. Unless you are very interested in this book I would wait a little bit. I am 16 now and am reading it for school and there are a few things and overall themes that are a little harder to understand and get a good idea of. I cant wait for my discussion when school starts. I'm sued I've missed all sorts of important things. Maybe after you read it, discuss it with someone or look up a book talk, just to make sure you understand everything. Enjoy!(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 19, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"And the rays of the sun were shooting past them, millions of rays shooting past them like--like golden machine-gun fire."

Gene is a boy from the South attending an exclusive New Hampshire prep school. He becomes best friends with a New Englander from Boston named Phineas. Let me amend that, Phineas chooses Gene as his friend and any thoughts that Gene has of being friends with anyone else are quickly dispersed as he is pulled into the shimmering chimeric world creating and constantly maintained
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The Library Lady
Apr 02, 2011 The Library Lady rated it did not like it
Shelves: overrated-crap
I remember this book distinctly because seldom have I hated a book more.
In addition to being a depressing piece of work, it is about as relevant to kids today as a 45RPM single (that's something we had before CDs, boys and girls). Why are they still putting it on reading lists? What fan of John Knowles has been paying teachers to force this on the kids?
Amanda
Sep 08, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Klobucher
Jun 15, 2007 Matthew Klobucher rated it really liked it
This book had a profound and lasting impact of me. It is a short, exquisitely crafted story narrated by a talented but unconspicuous boy who is jealous of his best friend, Phineas--who is athletic, beautiful, and kind. Phineas stands tall as the prodigy of American prep adolescence. He is simple; he is likeable; he has panache; and he is virtuous. His greatest crime to the narrator, though, is his love. For though the narrator is jealous and resentful that of his authentic golden-boy friend, he ...more
SR
Sep 04, 2008 SR rated it it was ok
I remember viscerally hating this - I found it incredibly boring and I don't think anything really happened except a whole bunch of wank about being a moron and running and a paragraph lovingly describing a side character's butt. I don't even know.

Furthermore, it was for eighth-grade English. My teacher gave us a quiz on some random detail-bits, and I remembered little things like how many years had passed between Point A and Point Boring, and that somehow meant that I wasn't actually UNDERSTAND
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Brian Yahn
Mar 18, 2016 Brian Yahn rated it really liked it
Maybe I'm bias, but a little bit of bromance could've gone a long way here. A Separate Peace is essentially a story of the relationship between two boys, and if it went a little farther, I think the points it made would've driven much deeper.

The plot mostly revolves around a single character, Finny, and although he's lively and exciting, this story is far from. And as such, I can't imagine it being too enjoyable to the middle schoolers and freshmen it is regularly assigned to. But for older more
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Ed
Apr 06, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it
My first novel.

Tiring of typical grade school fare I surreptitiously ordered A Separate Peace from the "other side" of the monthly Bantam book order form - unbeknownst to my Mother and my teacher. As grade school and high school books were shipped intermingled I plucked my order from the school shipment the moment the boxes were opened. Before I even opened the book I sensed that if I wanted to finish it, I better do so secretly.

I had no trouble reading the piece from a vocabulary standpoint b
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Whitaker
This is an American classic? Why? Now I’m not saying that it’s a bad novel. I just don’t see how it’s a particularly great one.

Perhaps, it’s ultimately because the book never worked to make me identify with the situation where the event took place. Instead, the entire conflict felt contrived. We are told of an atmosphere of driven competition in a school where everyone is an enemy and no one a real friend. But except being told so by Gene no one else in the book seems to notice this. I can imag
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Mariel
Apr 17, 2013 Mariel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gene genie lives on his back
Recommended to Mariel by: 11
All of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way- if he ever attacked at all; if he was indeed the enemy.


The book cares who is watching. Gene knows you are watching. Move in for an embrace, over the shoulder a good old boy smile. You know how it is, how it was. There we all were...

Confession? I don't place a lot of value in confessionals. If you wan
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mary
Mar 24, 2007 mary rated it really liked it
this book devastated me.

i read it in high school, like most people. it was the year with all the "classics" that everyone has read at some point in schooling, all depicting young adults in various stages of angst or 19th century high drama or epic poems. whatever.

but this book gave me such a strong physical reaction - i sobbed and felt ill through so much of this story. i think i related too much with the characters for my own good, and the psychological slap-around of the evil in every person
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mark monday
uptight boy loves free spirit boy but is too uptight to admit it. fat-ass boy tries to get in the way. then, betrayal.
Annet
Mar 20, 2016 Annet rated it really liked it
This is an American classic I didn't know yet, but got to know via Goodreads. Turns out many of my Goodreads friends read it already, so I discovered this is a well known book. Beautiful read. Brooding story, a coming of age tale with a dark side. Need to reread it again for all the details and the beautiful language. In some way it made me think of Brideshead Revisited, a grand book as well.
For those who don't know this book yet...
Set at a boy's boarding school in New England during the early
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Rhonda
Mar 09, 2014 Rhonda rated it liked it
I hadn’t thought of writing a review of this book until I read how many people disliked it. Far from wanting to simply "prove" others were wrong, I began thinking about why others might not like this book and its message. First, it is somewhat legitimate to dislike anything one must read in high school. However, if you never get past that point, life isn't much worth living. If you never come back and read some of the things on your own, you just aren't much of a human being. Rant as one will ag ...more
Manuel
Apr 10, 2008 Manuel added it
I LOATHED this book. I was required to read this piece of crap when I was a sophomore at Carmel High.
When you are in high school, you are required to read many books as part of a required reading list. Often times, you groan when you pick up something that looks like it will be a chore to read, but in the end the book will have a semblance of value. Many books will entertain you or at least you can say you learned something new. I didnt enjoy reading the "The Scarlet Letter" or "Billy Bud", but
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Kristy
Feb 19, 2016 Kristy rated it did not like it
I had to read this book in 11th grade English. I hated it. I had to read it again in college. I still hated it. I don't know why everyone thinks it's so great. Please, explain the appeal to me!
Monk
Nov 23, 2007 Monk rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lit-lovers, Those Coming of Age
Most people would list the Catcher In the Rye as the ultimate coming of age story, but I beg to differ. For me, my coming of age book was A Separate Peace. It was required reading - we were not given a choice on reading it. Unlike prior assigned reading books, I actually READ this one.

I wish I could remember more of it.

What I do remember was that I liked it. It's about a boy growing up at a prep school, making friendships and planning futures provided the war ends and that they aren't all drafte
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Debbie Zapata
Jun 21, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dar
This grimly intense story about boys in a boarding school during the summer of 1942 was painful to read. Not that it was not well-written, it was (which is why it got that third star). And I did get caught up in the storyline, I wanted to find out what happened next. But I could not seem to feel any sympathy for any of the
characters except Leper.

The boys know they will soon face the gruesome realities of WWII, and this knowledge affects each student differently. Besides that threat running thro
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Francisco
Jun 03, 2014 Francisco rated it it was amazing
What makes a book last and last, continued to be read? I want to know because, if at all possible, that's the kind of book I'd like to write. Here's a book that was first published in 1959 and which I read when I was sixteen and now fifty or so years later I read again. It is the story of two friends, Gene and Phineas in a New Hampshire elite boarding school as War World II rages and awaits them. The forces of evil played out in the macrocosm of Europe and in the microcosm of a boy's soul. I rea ...more
knig
May 16, 2012 knig rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, 2012
Right time, right place, right book: triple axis of alignment, all shook up. I don’t say ‘masterpiece’ often, but this is what ’a separate peace is’: no if, buts and doubts. An understated study of the death of the soul.

On a personal level, it resonates with me because I too, did something incredibly ill conceived a couple of years ago, and just like Gene Forrester, it hangs over my head like the sword of Damocles: a silent, corrosive necrotisis of the soul. There is only one way to score peace
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Amanda
Sep 05, 2008 Amanda rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Amanda by: TPR
Shelves: read-in-2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim
Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
One of the few assigned books in high school that I actually liked. It helped that I was in a school much like the one mentioned. Finny supplied us with several tricks that were perfect for bored, boarding school students, which added to the interest, of course. What drew me most to this book was that it captured the experience so well.

I've heard the novel disparaged because it's about a bunch of whiny rich kids. Obviously there's a lot of truth there, but these people miss the point. While pri
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Julie
Mar 29, 2008 Julie rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
This is the only book I had to read in high school that I hated. Usually I could find something to enjoy in all the books we read, but I hated this book. I'm not exactly sure why but to this day I get a shudder down my spine when I see a copy.
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
3.5

“There was no harm in taking aim, even if the target was a dream.”

Gene, you suck. It didn’t take long at all for me to despise you.

I had no idea what to expect going into ‘A Separate Peace’. I’d never heard of it before an enthusiastic friends-of-the-library volunteer recommended it to me when I was shopping at the yearly book sale. Since then I’ve learned it’s actually a classic that’s slipped under my reader’s radar. The length isn’t intimidating and the book reads quickly, accompanied by
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Nicole
Apr 21, 2015 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jake C
Jun 02, 2008 Jake C rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: knowone
Recommended to Jake by: CMT325
This book was very boring and hard to pay attention to. It was mostly taken back in World war two. It conflicts with envy and jealously. I really didn't like this book because it was hard to get into it and the whole plot of the book was very dry and empty.

I suggest this book for people who really get into books easy and like books about childhood maturity and about stupid mistakes. This book does not have any intense parts. The climax is very weak. A very random even happens which is the climax
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Chris
Jun 15, 2008 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chris by: one of my teachers, way back when
In sophomore year of high school, “A Separate Peace” was on the ‘required reading’ list. Thus, it was practically guaranteed I’d either never read it, or wouldn’t read it during my four years corralled with my peers being brainwashed with the same routine gibberish. I’ve never cottoned to the concept of someone telling me what I must read; I’ve always enjoyed the discovery of a new book outside the standard fare chosen by nimrods of school boards which is shoveled down the throats of the masses. ...more
Tressa
Jan 20, 2008 Tressa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen, general-fiction
I always read my older brother's required reading books long before I was assigned them, and for some reason this book spoke to me even though I've never been to an ivy league prep school and I'm not a boy. I had this book memorized by the time I reached 10th grade.

A wonderful study of the conflict between a naturally gifted and well-liked young man and the jealous friend with low self-esteem. A great book that teaches a moral code that one should live by and the ability to finally let go of the
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Susan
Jul 30, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the exclusive The Devon School, in New England, this is a moving and evocative coming of age novel. Gene Forrester and his friend Phineas are both sixteen years old. It is 1942 and the spectre of war and enlistment loom over them, but the story begins in a gilded summer, when it seems as though nothing bad could possibly happen to them.

Academic Gene is both exasperated by his roommate Phineas (Finny) and yet proud he has been chosen to be his closest friend and confidante. Finny is effort
...more
☆ ĄňŊǡƂėƮĦ ☆ ŞŧŎŋė
I read this book for school and I expected it to be boring. Gene and Finny are "best friends" at the all boys school Devon. They live there during WWII and all of the boys who will graduate are being prepared to going off to the war. Gene is a more intellectual and studious student while Finny is the opposite being athletic and carefree. The book is told as a memory of Gene when he is older. Gene is extremely jealous of Finny and it causes Gene to push him out of the tree thus breaking his leg. ...more
Duffy Pratt
I never read any of the assigned reading in English in High School. In 10th grade, we did this book. The teacher gave a test on the book, and I got an A. Unfortunately, the rest of the class did miserably, and the teacher was extremely disappointed. So she decided to give a True/False quiz to test whether people had actually read it. I failed miserably, and she was dumbfounded. When she asked me about this, I told her I never read anything that was assigned because I found it more of a challenge ...more
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Tone and Character Review 1 7 Jun 10, 2016 06:08PM  
Around the Year i...: A Separate Peace, by John Knowles 1 18 Apr 08, 2016 12:44AM  
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Spoiler Alert! Was it Suicide? 14 230 Sep 17, 2015 05:43PM  
What is the saddest book you've ever read? 50 424 Jul 24, 2015 07:36PM  
2016 Reading Chal...: A Separate Peace by John Knowles 3 19 Jul 07, 2015 07:27AM  
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John Knowles (September 16, 1926 - November 29, 2001), b. Fairmont, West Virginia, was an American novelist, best known for his novel A Separate Peace.

A 1945 graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, Knowles graduated from Yale University as a member of the class of 1949W. A Separate Peace is based upon Knowles' experiences at Exeter during the summer of 1943. The setting f
...more
More about John Knowles...

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“There was no harm in taking aim, even if the target was a dream.” 2079 likes
“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.” 201 likes
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