Title: A Separate Peace
Author: John Knowles
Summary: This book takes place at a boarding school called Devon during the first few years of World War II. A coming of age novel, the book starts out with Gene coming back to Devon fifteen years after he was a student there. The book focuses on events that happened while he was a student there. Gene quickly becomes friends with Phineas (Finny), a charismatic, charming student who rooms with Gene. Finny and Gene are opposites: Finny is athletic and captivating while Gene is book-smart and quiet. This leads to some resentment of Finny from Gene (without Finny’s knowledge), but they remain good friends. Finny and Gene create the “Super Suicide Society”, which is just a group of people who want to enjoy their time at Devon while doing crazy and fun activities. One of the things that the members of the society do is jump off of a tree branch into a lake. When Finny and Gene jump off of the branch, the branch is jostled and Finny falls and breaks his leg while Gene makes the jump into the lake. Following the incident, Gene is haunted by what happened during the jump, and for the remainder of the book comes to terms with himself and his actions.
Why I Kept Reading: The characters in the book are of similar age to us teenagers. This makes many of the emotions and experiences very relatable. However, the ideas and motifs presented are incredibly dense and thought-worthy. World War II plays an important part during one of the sections of the book, and the experiences that soldiers have during the war is brought up and considered. The setting is your average boarding school, and very realistic. Character development is well thought out and the potential of all the characters is shown.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants something to read and ponder about. This book is a “loss-of-innocence” book, and shows the transition from boyhood to manhood and how maturity grows over time due to events that happen during one’s life. The struggles of friendship, and dealing with emotions also plays a huge part in this book; something that we all can relate to and understand.