Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

The Power of OneThe Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in South Africa during World War II and on the cusp of apartheid, this is a gorgeous novel of Peekay, an English rooinek who overcomes huge obstacles and learns to rely only on himself. Following his life from the time he is five-years-old to 18-years-old we watch Peekay grow from a humiliated and persecuted schoolboy to an amazing young man who has been shaped and nurtured by really interesting characters and situations along the way.

I love some of these quotes from the book:

"Ahead of me lay the dreaded Mevrou, the Judge and the jury, and the beginning of the power of one - how I learned that in each of us there burns a flame of independence that must never be allowed to go out . That as long as it exists within us we cannot be destroyed."

"The power of one is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated. . . 'First with the head and then with the heart,' was more than simply mixing rains with guts. It meant thinking well beyond the powers of normal concentration and then daring your courage to follow your thoughts."

I love the characters in this book. While Peekay's father is nonexistent and his mother is a bit of a let-down, his life is filled with people who love him and help him help himself to reach his potential. Granpa Chook, a scraggly chicken, his beloved black nanny, Doc, Hoppie, Morrie, Geel Piet and Rasputin are all so real and well developed.

This book is not for the faint of heart; there is brutality and prejudice and some horrific situations. But the descriptions of South Africa are amazing and the book rolls along at an easy pace. Definitely one of my top favorite books of all time and one I intend to reread and I DON'T reread.

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