Book Review: A Separate Peace by John Knowles


Classics > Young Adult > Contemporary | Realistic Fiction

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.

Literary Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Fiction (1961), Rosenthal Family Foundation Award (1961)


The winter loves me, I mean as much as you can say a season can love. What I mean is, I love winter, and when you really love something, then it loves you back, in whatever way it has to love.

… it cannot be. *still in denial*

In another time that I might’ve read this, I would’ve hated A Separate Peace. I do, and I believe that. It was my first time to read a classic out of my own volition, I finished it, and I felt unhappy. Grieved. So by now you should know, this is a sad story (at least for me).

Gene and Phineas or “Finny” have an unusual friendship. It was amazing when Gene realized that there’s an underlying tension and rivalry between them (or not). So a simple act of defiance to gain ground against his best friend Finny is all it took to change their lives.

Finny was a charmer, as in he can get away with everything. Everything, I tell you. But even the most confident of boys feel suffering at one point of their lives. And when that happened to Finny, how my heart went out to him. He could use a hug!

A Separate Peace is an awakening of sorts. To Gene, who discovered what he’s capable of. To Finny, who found out that he can only avoid the ongoing war for so long. and with a cost.

Okay, then. I think I am entitled to sulk for a while.

You have to do what you think is the right thing, but just make sure it’s the right thing in the long run, and not just for the moment.

#14 Off-the-Shelf Challenge 2013


A SEPARATE PEACE by John Knowles

Paperback, 196 pages

Published October 7th 2003 by Scribner

4/5 stars