The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay uncovers the secret world of South Africa during the frantic tyranny of Hitler's reign, through a child's eyes. Suffering from the political and social strain of World War II, Peekay learns to grow up in a violent and terrifying world with no parental guidance, and no friends to lean on.
But the stars begin to align for Peekay when he leaves the private school in which he was mercilessly bullied, to begin a new chapter of his life, and create the most unusual of friendships. From a young boxer, to a German doctor, to a beautiful school teacher, to an amateur banker, Peekay will live the lives of a thousand men, and learn the ways of the world as only a young pre-welterweight champion of the world can.
I savored this book. I took my time with Peekay's story, and enjoyed every minute of it.
The Power of One can be compared to eating beet greens. (It always comes back to food now, doesn't it?) At first they may look daunting, and even as you delve into them, you're unsure of whether you like them, or if you're just eating them because they're good for you, but in the end, they were satisfying, tasty, and you know you'll want them again. (If this analogy does not suit your taste, then either come over to my house and I'll make you good beet greens, or equate my analogy to something that's equal to beet greens.)
Basically, this book was large, serious, and drier than your average fictional read, but boy was it good. You will come out of your reading experience of The Power of One more knowledgeable and more informed about what growing up was like on that side of the world during such dire times.
Because I had my friends recommend books for me to read this year, I find myself learning more and more about parts of history I had never considered before. I've learned about communist China, and now South Africa in the 1930s to the 1950s. Call me naive, but until now, I had never given thought to what the world was like in South Africa during those times. I, like many others, have mostly learned the history of Germany, America, and a bit of England.
The Power of One has opened my eyes, not only to a new part of the world, but to life lessons and powerful statements brought to me by Bryce Courtenay's colorful characters.