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Cat About Town by Cate Conte and Amy Melissa Bentley (Narrator)
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Common Bonds edited by Claudie Arseneault
A Deadly Edition by Victoria Gilbert
Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz
The Ghost and the Dead Deb by Alice Kimberly
Gideon Falls, Volume 5: Wicked Worlds by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino (Illustrator)
How to Lie with Maps by Mark Monmonier
I Am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani (Illustrator)
Lips Unsealed by Belinda Carlisle
Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Murder 101 by Lynn Cahoon
A Pairing to Die for by Kate Lansing
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi
Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Signspotting III: Lost and Loster in Translation by Doug Lansky
Sleight of Paw by Sofie Kelly
Smash It! by Francina Simone
State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
Swordheart by T. Kingfisher
Tea & Treachery by Vicki Delany
The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O'Neill
This Coven Won't Break by Isabel Sterling
Toured to Death by Hy Conrad
Turtle in Paradise: The Graphic Novel by Jennifer L. Holm and Savanna Ganucheau
Two Wicked Desserts by Lynn Cahoon
The Walled Flower by Lorraine Bartlett
Well Met by Jen DeLuca
Well Played by Jen DeLuca
The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

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A Separate Peace: 08/10/21

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

A Separate Peace by John Knowles is a book I've read twice for school: once in eighth grade and again in tenth. It's one that has stuck with me — though not as perfectly as I thought. Last year when I read The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (2019) I was reminded of the novel again and decided it was time for a read as an adult.

Now that I've read it in my forties, I can see why it was taught in school. The imagery is blatant and repetitive. The foreshadowing is practically shouted. There are plenty of examples throughout the novel for students learning how to write literary analysis.

Told as an extended flashback by an adult returning to his old boarding school, it's about the friendship between Gene and Phineas. Gene is an introvert and academic. Phineas is a charismatic and athletic rule breaker. At first glance, Gene is to Elwood as Phineas is to Turner, except that Whitehead takes the narrative formula of Knowles books and turns it on its head.

Gene's account of his brief friendship with Phineas is set during their senior year. In the background is WWII and all the boys know they will be drafted upon graduation if they don't enlist. The middle part of the book even goes into the disastrous effect the war has on a student who enlists early and ends up AWOL.

Mostly though the book is about privileged boys living one last privileged year. Gene, in particular, though, learns this first hand. His journey of character growth, as an adult, can be mapped on the road narrative spectrum.

Gene remains a privileged traveler (00) even as adult. His journey back to school and through his memories of that last year is a trip to uhoria (CC). His route is the cornfield (FF) as represented by the tree at the river that features so heavily in the novel. Thus Gene's journey is that of a privileged traveler through uhoria via the cornfield (00CCFF).

Four stars

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