A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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Friendship always has it’s ups and downs, especially for the characters in A Separate Peace. In the novel A Separate Peace Gene and Finny are best friends. However, as time and heartache loosen their friendship, they grow increasingly similar.
-Teen Ink

Synopsis

An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to the second world war.

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.

A bestseller for more than thirty years, A Separate Peace is John Knowles’s crowning achievement and an undisputed American classic.
 

About John Knowles

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John Knowles, who died in 2001, was a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, as well as a recipient of the William Faulkner Award and the Rosenthal Award of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
 
Published April 22, 2014 by Scribner. 289 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Children's Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, History, War, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Travel. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A Separate Peace
All: 9 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Above average
on Jul 22 2015

While the imprint here is a personal one, it is unsentimental, and Knowles- a cleancut writer- has given the subtler elements of this attachment, in which identification is a strong part of the involvement, a clear definition.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by CHARLIE COOPER on Sep 01 2014

For Knowles, growing up, and experience, means facing up to the idea of threat in the world, and he skilfully depicts the different boys' reactions to it...for British readers unfamiliar with him, reading this novel will feel like unearthing a forgotten gem.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Breece6 on May 01 2014

Human nature, combined with the nature of the world the boys live in, creates the conflict and its ending. Knowles constantly describes the world using vivid imagery and disturbingly accurate sensations of anxiety and happiness.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by brillblonde on May 01 2014

Friendship always has it’s ups and downs, especially for the characters in A Separate Peace. In the novel A Separate Peace Gene and Finny are best friends. However, as time and heartache loosen their friendship, they grow increasingly similar.

Read Full Review of A Separate Peace

Brothers Judd

Above average
Reviewed by brothersjudd on Apr 28 2000

This could be an invaluable book for teaching kids, to help them understand the universality of their own insecurities and to perceive their peers more clearly. One doubts that is how it is taught, which instead makes it a somewhat dangerous book. God help us if kids come away from this book idolizing Phineas.

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Story Snoops

Good
Reviewed by Eden on May 01 2014

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.

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Things Mean a Lot

Above average
Reviewed by Ana S on Jul 07 2009

The story of Leper, the first of Gene’s friends to enlist, touched me in particular. But the themes of war, fear and identity are only some of the many sides of this novel. Like all the best books, A Separate Peace seems to be one that will show the reader something new every time they return to it.

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Lit Lovers

Good
Reviewed by Molly Lundquist on May 01 2014

It's a wonderful book. And even if you read it in high school...it's time to re-read it as an adult. Lots to think and talk about.

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The Mookse and the Gripes

Excellent
Reviewed by Trevor Berrett on Nov 19 2008

Imagine my delight, then, when I sat down and read the first two paragraphs and knew that at the very least I was in the hands of a gifted writer...The war is a nice vehicle to describe what happens to these boys...And that brings us to the magnificent last page which is one of those endings that warps the whole book...

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Reader Rating for A Separate Peace
69%

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