Jim's Reviews > A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace by John Knowles
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Apr 21, 09

bookshelves: fiction, 1paper
Read in April, 2006

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 privileged, the kids don't realize it. It's as natural to them as water to a fish, so it has to be ignored to see the real story which is the fragile identity of the kids & their struggles with it.

We're told the story from Gene's POV as an adult, although he obviously still harbors a lot of insecurities & isn't as accurate as he thinks in his reporting. He's still trying to decide where he stands. During the book, he's best friends with Finny who is as carefree as anyone can be, but he's torn between his friend & the conservative respectability that the school embodies, the expectations of his world. They're pretty much summed up in another school mate, Brinkman.

Added to Gene's confusion is his jealousy of Finny, who is a natural athlete. Gene can't measure up to his friend. He doesn't like himself for feeling this way, but the fact remains.

Not my normal reading, but I've re-read this a couple of times over the years, getting something a bit different out of it each time. The war time setting dates it a bit, but not too badly.

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