The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Hi, I am Sarah. I am fourteen years old and an avid reader; it is one of my favorite things to do. Inspired by authors’ creations of magnificent places and surprising havens built by simple letters, I aspire to be an author and, meanwhile, nurture the love to write.
The year is 1938, and World War II is brewing in the faraway land of Europe. For five-year-old Peekay, it’s a thought as foreign as the ocean when all he has ever known is the South African lowveld where he grew up.
Peekay has a life as challenging as it is fortunate: a childhood marred by humiliation and torment, serving as a place from which to rise with aspirations of a brighter future. It is a life of opportunity: from lessons in music and botany to more informal ones of boxing and scamming. It is truly, wholly, a life of discovery: discovery of humanity, in a world divided by the prejudice of war and the seeds of apartheid; discovery of self, of finding ones’ own ambitions in a sea of expectations—a discovery of the power of one: that “in each us, there is a flame that must never be allowed to go out. That as long as it burns within us, we cannot be destroyed.”
While it was one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read, I truly enjoyed this story, if only for how different Peekay’s experiences are from my own. Bryce Courtenay weaves an epic, coming-of-age account of how one boy’s life is shaped by those he encounters on his way to maturity. It peeks into the beginnings of Apartheid in South Africa and ultimately provides such a different way to see the world that is well worth the read.