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 World War II.
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
With his coming-of-age classic, John Knowles brilliantly captures the duality of adoration and resentment that’s so common in teenage friendships. The story is told through the eyes of Gene, a bookish boy whose free-spirited best friend, Phineas, makes everything fun and adventurous. When Phineas suffers a terrible fall, it’s unclear whether it was an accident or not. Meanwhile, World War II rages on in the world outside the boys’ New England boarding school, and the inevitability of the draft hangs over everyone. A Separate Peace has stood the test of time because the emotions here are so authentic and relatable. This dark, brooding story sparkles with life.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I read this book twice once as a high schooler and once thirty years later and enjoyed it both times. Good story, good writing, and characters who you care about. Recommended!...EAF
Phineas dies😭😭😭😭😭 font get attached
read it for school, got my own copy shortly after
let me preface this by saying this book isn't for everyone. expect no fast paced action-packed style, as much of the conflict is internal. also bear in mind that this is set in an all-white all-male boarding school community, which of course is not interesting to everyone.
that said, i have to say this book is most definitely one of my favorite -- if not my absolute favorite -- books. the characters feel like they have a lot of depth, and the story is told very earnestly and subtly from a place in the author's memory that seems tender and wistful. the writing and story never felt manufactured or saturated to me.
it is also a good look into one experience of the war, and how even those of the most privileged classes were affected. a lot of what happens is interpreted very differently from person to person, more so than most books i've read. that's one of the beauties of it, in my opinion. characters and events are written explicitly enough to make sense but ambiguously enough for everyone to read it their own way.
david levithan's afterword is insightful but brief and easy to read, which is a blessing as most books that fall into the classic lit genre have really long and overblown additions.