The story caught me immediately, and I read it through twice before I had to return it. Gene, I thought, was annoying but somehow I related to him. He seemed to be trying so hard to be responsible, but definitely needed a swift kick in the backside to lighten up. Here came Phineas. Great at sports, great at reading other people, great at making people laugh, making friends and more. Mediocre at school, lousy at showing his serious side. His friendship with Gene was solid and true. So he thought. Phineas was naïve in that one way. He couldn't believe that anyone else could be that insecure in what they believed.
This book had a profound effect on me. I read it in 9th grade, and could still vividly recall the story line in my junior year when trying to come up with a topic for a "practice" essay for the state's English regents exam. While this was not required reading for me in school, my teacher protested with my choice of book until I argued my choice by showing her the NYS recommended reading list. I got to write my essay. I don't remember the essay, but I still can remember reading the prologue and epilogue with the grown up Gene. I can still remember how I couldn't put this book down the first time I read it.
A Separate Peace is definitely a book I would recommend to a teen reader.
“It seemed clear that wars were not made by generations and their special stupidities, but that wars were made instead by something ignorant in the human heart” --John Knowles, A Separate Peace