January 25, 2013



Prompt Proofing Blog Post: Book Review - The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
-- The Power of One was the debut - and best-known - novel of this prolific author who died just a few months ago. --

    VANCOUVER, BC, January 25, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The Power of One was the debut - and best-known - novel of this prolific author who died just a few months ago. Bryce Courtenay was born in South Africa and the novel is 'semi-autobiographical' - it is left to the reader to decide just which parts are true and how much is a product of the writer's imagination. Certainly there are many similarities between the childhood of the author and that of the novel's protagonist, the self-styled Peekay.

Peekay is an exceptional child of English descent who encounters horrific bullying when sent to a boarding school at the tender age of five. Surrounded by Afrikaaners who have no love for the English, Peekay learns to survive - initially by blending in and refusing to cry. Nevertheless, his experiences at the hands of his nemesis 'the judge' affect his entire youth, eventually culminating in a violent conclusion that effectively brings the novel full circle. A chance encounter on the train ride home introduces the young boy to boxing - a sport that fascinates him and for which, thanks to the help and advice of two mentors, he develops an incredible ability. As a young amateur he never loses a fight, gaining self-confidence and learning many invaluable life lessons along the way.

However, the book is not just a story of boxing - in fact there are so many different elements in this novel that it is difficult to attribute it to any particular genre. It is a coming-of-age novel, a novel of South African life and racism in the 30s, 40s and 50s; it is mystical, an adventure novel and much more. The Power of One deals with gritty subjects such as bullying, torture by brutal prison wardens, the horrors of apartheid and the unbelievably harsh life of the Rhodesian copper mines. At the same time, it is a fascinating and compelling story of adventure, love, friendship, nature and triumph over adversity.

Peekay is a young man of extraordinary ability in many spheres who is mentored by Doc, an elderly German professor, who educates him in nature and music and profoundly influences his entire youth. Peekay later earns a scholarship to a prestigious private school where he befriends Morrie - a wealthy Jewish boy. Together the boys run many successful scams - even operating a bank for fellow students. His friendship with Morrie is set to be lifelong and gives Peekay yet another perspective on discrimination.

The Power of One paints a vivid picture of a childhood in South Africa during World War II and at the beginning of apartheid. As the centre of the story, Peekay is an engaging character who enjoys the reader's emotional support and empathy throughout. This is a book you will find difficult to put down.

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