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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(3 star). See all 275 reviews
on October 3, 1999
This is an enjoyable novel but hardly the masterpiece some reviewers would have you believe. The characters are drawn as carefully as those in Star Wars. Judge and Klipkop are bad. Hoppie, Doc, Geel Piet, Mrs. Boxall, Miss Bornstein and Morrie are good. Peekay himself is a Christ-like figure, perfection personified. He's a brilliant boxer, a brilliant student, a faithful friend. He's honest, brave and hardworking. He can see the faults, foibles, and follies of those around him. He never misjudges a person, never makes a mistake, never does something he has cause to regret later. In short, he is not credible at all.
Its portrayal of South African history is equally one-dimensional. All racists are Boers and most Boers are racist. The English are mostly good. Blacks are uniformly good. We are, to be sure, told that many of the Barberton prisoners have committed terrible crimes but no Black character in the novel ever does anything wrong. This simplistic portrayal means that it is not "The Classic Novel of South Africa" as the cover proclaims. That honour belongs to "Cry, the Beloved Country", a far more nuanced and heart-wrenching story that's also set in the post-War period.
The boxing scenes are among the best in the book, particularly the early ones before you realize that the good guys never lose. If you're drawn to the book by an interest in boxing, read Norman Mailer's "The Fight".
The theme of the novel, from which it draws its title, is the power of one person to affect change and to follow his dreams rather than those others have for him. A bleaker, but far better written, version on this theme is Halldor Laxness' Nobel prize winning "Independent People."
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on September 13, 1998
At the end of eigth grade, letters were sent home to the hnrs lit students on the books they would need to read over the summer. My class had to read Power of One. At first, I thought the book was really slow and I hated how much violence, profanity, and sexual encounters 5 year old Peekay encounters. But after you get by the 50 page mark, it does get better. Peekay meets some incredable people that come and go in his life and he needs to learn how to deal with losing a friend. Peekay's goal is to become welterweight champion, like one of his friends, Hoppie, that he meets. Though, by the end of the book you never find out if he becomes champ. I guess that's why there's a sequal, Tandia that I've heard is better than The Power of One. This is not a book I would have just checked out of the library and read for fun, but overall I'm glad to hav read the book.
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on April 23, 2001
This book was recommended to me by a friend as her "all time favorite novel". I started it and was pleased to become immediately hooked. The writing is beautiful and the characters are endearing. Little Peekay stole my heart for the first half of the book. It had me laughing one minute and crying the next. I've never cared much about boxing, but the fight scenes were riviting. About halfway through the book something changes - our little Peekay becomes so full of himself that I'm beginning to wish some more bad luck would come his way just to bring him back to the status of a mere mortal. He is constantly in awe of his own intelligence and prowess as a boxer and a scholar. While in total command of thousands of African prisoners, he muses to himself that he "has become a legend". Now enter his new buddie Morrie - the two of them CANNOT LOSE. Everything they touch turns to gold. They are admired by all and cannot imagine life not turning out exactly as they wish it. YES, Peekay did have some terrible times as a young boy, but after that he becomes the chosen one and I for one am sick to death of him. I've got a third of the book left to read and I'm not sure if I can stomach any more of the tadpole angle. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, beause I really did enjoy the first half of the book. Peekay does make quite a few attempts at false modesty, but a little true humility would have made me continue to care about him.
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