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StorySnoops Children's Book Reviews | A Separate Peace | John Knowles
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A Separate Peace
by John Knowles
LEXILE READING LEVEL: 1110L {what is this?}
NO. PAGES: 208
GENRE{S}: Realistic Fiction, Literary Fiction
ISBN: 0743253973
READ & REVIEWED BY: Eden - StorySnoop

The Story
A Separate Peace—Book Review

In the summer of 1942, while WWII is being fought oceans away, two very different boys who are not old enough to enlist yet are attending the summer session at Devon prep school in New England. Phineas is dashing, daring, and charming. Gene is quiet and intellectual. They are the best of friends, but what happens between them touches on the dark side of adolescence and banishes their innocence forever in an unforgettable coming of age story.
The Scoop
A Separate Peace—Book Review
{spoiler alert}

A Separate Peace is a literary classic coming of age story set during WWII, and still taught in high schools today. Well-crafted and richly descriptive, this multi-layered story explores the darker areas of the teenaged psyche and what can happen when jealousy creeps in. Passionate, charismatic, and phenomenally gifted athletically, Phineas can seem to do no wrong. More reserved and cerebral Gene feels fortunate to have been chosen as Finny's friend, until he becomes convinced that Phineas is intentionally trying to sabotage his academic success. He allows his suspicions and anger to get the best of him during a tree-jumping stunt, where the slightest movement on Gene's part causes Phineas to fall, shattering his leg and tragically ending his athletic career. The question of whether Gene's actions were intentional or not is integral to the story, as Gene must learn to live with the consequences of his impulsive actions, particularly after it becomes apparent that his suspicions were unfounded. An informal inquiry into the matter by the other boys at the school leads to a shattering realization, and begins a chain of events that eventually lead to the death of a main character. The war overseas is an important backdrop to the story, as the boys at the school squeeze every drop of innocent enjoyment out of their last months as children. In addition, they question the importance of a classical education on the eve of being sent to fight. The atmosphere at Devon is like a hidden pocket of relative peace for the boys on the brink of coming of age before they even leave the school. One character arrives at the conclusion that even after entering the military, the only real enemy he ever fought was the one he found within. Even though the time and place setting may not be as relevant for teens of today, the emotions and universal themes of friendship, jealousy, betrayal, and loyalty still resonate. A Separate Peace is best suited to teen readers who can handle some formal vocabulary, and a thought-provoking story that doesn't necessarily give neatly wrapped up answers at the end. Language is mild and infrequent: a-s, b-stard, son of a b-tch, h-ll.
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