In case you missed it, I am participating in the Reading New England Challenge (created by the Emerald City Book Review). Each month, there is a genre or state, from which you have to pick a book (set in New England, obvious) and read it. You don’t have to do them all, or do them in order, but I’m trying to. January’s theme was New Hampshire, so I chose A Separate Peace by John Knowles.
Set at a boy’s boarding school during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace follows best friends Gene and Phineas and the event that changed their lives. Gene is an introverted intellectual. Finny is the handsome, popular, athletic daredevil. And while they excel in very different fields, that doesn’t stop them from competing. What happens between them one summer takes away their innocence, and leaves Gene haunted. And when he revisits the school as an adult, he’s forced to relive the trauma of that summer.
I had pretty high expectations for this book. I like WWII historical fiction. I enjoy novels that center around friendships. I love New England. And this book is an American classic. But it just didn’t blow me away. It was beautifully written, and I liked the characters, but something just didn’t click for me with this book. Still, I enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for historical fiction, or a book about the complicated nature of friendship.
This book hovered around a 3/3.5-star rating until the very end, which was utterly heartbreaking. But it made me love this book a lot more. If it wasn’t for this challenge, I probably would never have read this book, so I’m glad it worked out. This is why I decided to do this challenge (and all all the other reading challenges I’m doing). If you’ve read A Separate Peace, I’d love to hear what you thought about it!