A Separate Peace by John Knowles (review by Andrew R. ’17)

A Separate PeaceA Separate Peace by John Knowles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Separate Peace is such a refreshing change of pace, it deserves its own genre. Set at a boys’ boarding school in the final years of the World War II draft, it follows the powerful friendship and all-consuming rivalry between Gene and Phineas as the two students battle their teachers, the war, and each other. A Separate Peace is worth a read simply for its historical aspect—written in 1946, it chronicles the overlooked perspective of an adolescent during wartime, and its setting is as far as can be from Normandy and Auschwitz. But Knowles’s true mastery lies in his themes, deeply nuanced and constantly developed to more complex and enlightening forms, and by the end of Gene’s tale he has painted a beautiful portrait of conflict in any setting. A Separate Peace may make a perfect subject for an English essay, but at the same time its gravity and depth merit at least one read from any serious student of the Second World War. – Andrew R. ’17

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