A Separate Peace, by John Knowles : a Book Review

The underlying themes in this book are important ones.  The themes of the book that are woven through the fabric of the story include jealousy, betrayal, loss of innocence and friendship.  The plot of the book is about a bunch of ordinary kids at a boarding school.  It starts with one of the kids, Gene, coming back to his school, Devon, as an older man.  He comes to the tree he remembers so well from his youth and has a flashback.  It starts with the kids all gathered around the tree.  “You know what I like about this tree?”  is the opening line of the flashback, which is said by Phineas, Gene’s friend.  The relationship between Phineas and Gene changes throughout the story as events unfold, and a kangaroo trial is held for Gene by the other kids in the school.  The story winds in and out of Devon as it goes along.  All of the kids are talking about enlisting in the army (the story takes place during World War II) and an incident between the boys at the school starts out as tiny as an ant and ends up being a very dark misfortune.  The book is like an onion.  There is a story, but there are also layers beneath the main story that are just waiting to be discovered.

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