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Customer Review

119 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCELLENT BIT OF WRITING, January 11, 2007
This review is from: A Separate Peace (Scribner Classics) (Hardcover)
It has been said that A Separate Peace is the quintessential coming of age novel. That may quite be so. I certainly could not argue against that statement. That being said, I will say that this is one fine bit of smooth, restrained writing. The sentence structure, syntax and flow is some of the best to be found. If for no other reason, it should be studied for that reason alone. I note that there are quite a few critical and negative reviews on this one, for the most part, from kids who have been forced to read it in class. I, myself, probably would not assign this work to a general class in High School. I can remember from my school day, that anything that had the word "classic" attached, made m eyes roll to the back of my head before I even opened the cover of the book. An honors class, perhaps. This, at first glance, is a very simple book, but it is so much more. There are so many levels found in this work that it is actually rather difficult to track all of them with just one reading. I also feel that many of our young folks today would have problems relating to the setting and the situation addressed in this work. The subjects studied by the school boys of that day alone and at the level they studied them, would be difficult to find in any of our schools today. After all, it was published fifty years ago and times they have been changing. On the other hand, the emotions addressed in this work have been with us since the beginning of time and always will be. To the argument that it is a coming of age book written by another old white guy. This is true. Authors should write about what they know. The author was an old white guy, ergo, a coming of age book about a rich white kid. I am an old white guy and would never think about writing a novel about the life of a young Hispanic man living in this day and age. That would be silly as I would not have a clue. Knowles is a good story teller and a fine writer. I liked and enjoyed this work when it was first published and could well relate to the character at that time. I am old now, do not so much relate to the young man in the book, but certainly can relate to the old man telling the story. I do have to agree with another reviewer in that some of the pages in this book are absolutely hilarious, a fact often overlooked. All in all, recommend this one highly.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 22, 2009 9:12:07 PM PDT
A. Sabangan says:
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I am a 30 something Asian-American female and yet I truly related to the emotions and the conflict that the characters went thru. I couldn't agree with you more. This is a wonderful story that talks about character and it's message, as far as I'm concerned, is timeless.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2009 12:16:10 PM PDT
Hi A: Thank you for the kind words and I am glad you enjoyed the review. I am also so glad you noted the fact that you are female and Asian-American. I have always maintained that you do not have to be a "white guy" to enjoy and appreciate this work. In my opinion it is a rather universal read as it deals with emotions we all deal with. And yes, it does indeed address is question of "character," something, as I get older (perhaps a symptom of my slipping into my dotage), I am finding less and less of in our society. I am thrilled you loved the book...pass the word!

Posted on May 7, 2009 2:16:13 PM PDT
Jersey Cube says:
I was a young Hispanic guy living in the 1970s when I read this novel and I totally "got it". I was close to the age of the characters when I read the book and saw the movie adaptation as part of my ninth grade honors English class. This book had a powerful impact on me that I could not articulate at the time. Fast forward to 2006 when I re-read the novel as an adult. I was still overwhelmed by its power. Its sad and beautiful story of friendship, lost love, and what lies in the human heart is as moving today as it ever was. Its message is universal, even if the framework may seem a little dated. Thank you, John Knowles. May you rest in peace.

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2009 6:50:58 PM PDT
Thank you Jersey..well said! Your point of the message of this work being universal is well taken. Knowles did indeed leave us a wonderful thing when he wrote this one. This is one of those books that I hope is around for a very, very long time. Thank you for the visit and adding your thoughts to my review. (And by the way, you pretty well hit the nail on the head with your review of this work also).

In reply to an earlier post on May 12, 2009 7:57:58 AM PDT
G. Auxier says:
I got tears in my eyes when I read your review. You write well. To evoke emotion in a few sentences says something good about how clearly and with few words you can grab and move a reader. Many have waxed eternal in their comments with melodic puff. You say it well without pretense.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2009 1:52:44 PM PDT
Thank you so much for your comments G. Auxier! I truly appreciate them. I try to write my reviews from the heart and try my best to just say it how it is. Your comments give me hope that I am hitting it for at least some people and I do appreciate this feed back.

Posted on Sep 12, 2010 10:44:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 12, 2010 10:44:58 PM PDT
PalmKD says:
I would have to agree as well that this is the quintessential coming of age novel. I generally think of both this book and The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger whenever I think of this very specific genre. The first time I ever read this book was back in the times of high school where everything felt so severe and dramatic. We coupled this book with other literary classics and this one with Phineas and Gene, still and forevermore will be my favorite. Regardless of how many times or when I read it, something else becomes more relevant or real. I also agree that many pages are simply hilarious. Great review! Great Book! =)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 6:35:05 AM PDT
Hi PalmKD. Great comments and thank you for the kind words. Have your read Old School by Tobias Wolff? I just led a discussion group at the local library using this book and compaired it with Catcher and Separate Peace. I was tempted to throw in Lords of Discipline but I am not all that comfortable with Conroy. If you have not read Tobias's work yet, I suspect you would like it very much and certainly recommend it. Like you, first read Catcher in H.S. I find it fascinating who I preceived the book them compaired to how I view it now that I am an old man. Both Catcher and Peace are great books though and I reread them quite often.
Thank you so much for dropping by and do so often!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 24, 2010 8:45:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 24, 2010 8:50:22 PM PDT
PalmKD says:
I haven't actually read Old School, but now it is "saved to buy later" so that once the holidays come about, I will be able to catch up on some reading! Thanks so much for the suggestion! I'm also curious, what is your opinion on the Great Gatsby? I couldn't seem to find that you'd written a review about that book, but I can only imagine that it's also something in your collection.

-Kathy Palm

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2010 7:43:17 AM PDT
Hi again PalmKD...I am betting you are going to like Old School. It is a 'coming of age' book that was just made for those folks who love books!

As to Great Gatsby. I read that book years and years ago and like it...of course I like most of the books written by that "Lost Generation" of writers. I have not read Gatsby recently (like as in thirty years now), but your comment here rang some bells for me and I think I will give it another shot. And yes, I do have it in my collection. :) And speaking of that, I preceive that you would be the kind of reader who would enjoy "Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation" by Noel Riley Fitch. It of couse in a nonfiction book but gives a wonderful insight to the literary characters of that era. It has its dry moments but those are well worth slogging through. I do highly recommend it. I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on that work.

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