Gene is a super-star student who excels in the classroom. He likes order, he likes to plan, be safe, and conduct himself in accordance with school rules.

Phineas’s middle name is trouble. A daredevil whose wit and charm manage to always talk him out of any deleterious consequences for his lackadaisical behavior.

Devon School brought them together. They room together at school, and they both stay there during the summer months. The boys form a secret club which holds meetings every evening. Boys will be boys, but diving into the water from a high tree branch reeks of tragedy… both for Finny and Gene. Gene hears the talk at school: those boys who hint subtly and not-so-subtly that he knew ahead of time about the incident or that he caused it to happen. Meanwhile, Phineas recovers at home. The two have discussed the situation, but resolution seems far afield.

WWII permeates all aspects of the boys, lives. The rising high school juniors are relieved that they are not yet old enough for the draft. Indulging in luxury is frowned upon, and materials are rationed. The talk of the town includes speculation about the presidents, actions. The boys banter about the tragedy, and everyone wishes that the war would end. Somehow, though, there has to be some fun amid the chaos.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles, 1959

This book illuminated why people compare Covid 19 to a wartime scenario. I have not lived through a war that drastically altered my daily life, but the corona virus definitely has impacted my life, along with everyone else’s.

Books about WWII