A Separate Peace by John Knowles is a short work of fiction about two teenage boys attending a private boarding school in New England during World War Il. The story is narrated by one of the main characters, named Gene, who is distinctly different from the other main character, Phineas. Gene is introverted and mild-mannered, while Phineas is extremely outgoing, daring, and popular; despite these differences, the two boys are best friends. After a lengthy introduction and description of the characters and setting, the plot unfolds. Gene and Phineas, despite being best of friends, struggle to accept each other's successes, because they each are so competitive. This tension represents the major conflict of the novel, and as the story unfolds the conflict is resolved, but not without sufficient suspense and surprise. A Separate Peace is not a great book because of its story, which is not particularly inventive; it is a great book, however, on account of the precise character descriptions and careful attention given to detail throughout the book. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.