I am having a very good week with re-reading classics of American Literature: Ethan Frome, The Red Pony, and now John Knowles' A Separate Peace. This coming-of-age story takes place in an exclusive boys' boarding school right before the U.S. enters WWII. Gene and Phinneas are best friends: Gene has book smarts and Phinneas has everything else, including a magnetic personality that makes him easily the king of the campus. The pending war--and their possible enlistment--hangs over the boys, at times terrifying but most often as a potential adventure. Their lives are changed forever in a split second, in the frightening way that a simple act of aggression can cause irreparable harm. The fall from innocence is brutal and complete, severing them all from the blissful world of academics to the hard world of loss, guilt, anger, and war. Knowles is a beautiful writer, his language concise but poetic. This will be included on my list of required reading for my upcoming American Lit class.