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Avg. Rating: 4.76
Trouble in Paradise
Though in the popular vein, this is an original modern novel and deserves a reading for many reasons. Firstly, it is about South Africa and, to the extent that outsiders know anything about that troubled country, it serves as a lesson to what the future might hold for any nation which falls into the grip of a race war. From this point of view it is a very ugly novel. Happily, it has some highly redeeming features which make us want to read through all the trouble and strife.
Bryce Courtenay is a good writer. He is able to involve us in the story from the beginning with well-drawn characters. The central character starts the book off as a small boy, living in South Africa during the Second World War. As if the black/white race problems are not enough, we find out (those of us who didn't know) that there is also extremely bad blood 'twixt English and Boer. So when young Peekay is sent to be the lone Englishman attending an Afrikaner boarding school, he is really in hot water. Thus begins one of the most unusual educations you could wish for and how Peekay eventually manages to turn every disadvantage to his favour is part of the delight of this chronicle.
Besides being a good yarn, this book has considerable depth and we can follow Peekay quite closely as he learns all about Latin and Greek, cacti, boxing and especially, human nature. By the age of twelve, he is so well versed in these matters, not to mention the machinations of the Pentecostal Church and the workings of the South African Prison system, that he is clearly a boy apart, who may be destined for stranger things still.
If you have the slightest interest in South Africa, you will enjoy this book from many angles. It is a story about the twentieth century and one of its most pressing problems, which we have now brought forward into this one. In any case, most readers will have trouble putting it down, as it is the story of an unusual life told with passion and honesty.
My favorite book ever
I am first encountered the book, The Power Of One by Bryce Courtenay around the age of 13 the summer before high school. I was on a whitewater-rafting trip for two weeks and as my best friend read Black Boy by Richard Wright (also a favorite) I devoured the pages telling the story of Peekey, an English boy living in South Africa during the apartheid. At the age of six Peekey is herded off to an all-Boer (Dutch) boarding school because his mother has a breakdown. At the school he is tormented for his nationality, there are many violent scenes including one where he is urinated on by a nazi-motivated classmate. Throughout his few years at the boarding school his mother, his nanny (who was like his second mother) and his only friend, a chicken named Grandpa Chook all die, actually, Grandpa Chook is slaughtered by the other boys. Finally, Peekey is sent to live with his grandfather and Peekey encounters a German musician who cannot return to Germany because of the war. Peekey and the musician in exile become the best of friends, spite their age difference of around 60 years. In a trade-off Doc (as he is called in the novel) teaches Peekey science, literature, music, and Peekey helps him with his studies of plants. Because of the war Doc. is forced to go to jail, but Peekey is permitted visitation rights to continue his piano lessons. In the jail Peekey learns to box by an in-mate, a man brilliant of trickery who also becomes Peekey's close friend. Peekey knows at least 5 African dialects and becomes idealized in the jail, because he writes for the illiterate and sneaks in tobacco leaves for the jailed. In the novel the brutalities of apartheid are revealed but not the essence of the book. Courtenay does not in anyway preach. The novel is truly written beautifully (which is not something I say about most books) and includes humor, despair and the story of race relations, and young boy coming of age in Africa
I was reccomended this book by my football coach. It was his favorite book throughout highschool, and It is safe to say that it is mine as well. This book can be appreciated by all, even if you have no knowledge of boxing or the South African Culture because i sure didn't.
This book takes place in South Africa during Hitlers reign of terror and the protagonist is self-named Peekay. Due to him being from an English speaking family, he is is hated by the majority of South Africa which is overrun with Boers, nazis, and nazi sympathizers. He becomes a boxer with dreams of becoming the welter weight champion of South Africa. This brave young man grows up through this hateful prejudice in one of the most inspirational tales of all time.
This is a story of independence, perseverence, and self pride. In which the power of one will always prevail.
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