Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Read while home alone? yes
Tissues needed? possibly a few
Overall rating: 4 stars

On the verge of WWII, a young boy in South Africa is forced to grow up quickly when he is sent to a boarding school. Racial identity is everything; Peekay is the “wrong” race, and so gets bullied horribly by older students. He then has a chance meeting with a boxer that forever changes his life. Later Peekay develops a relationship with a German professor of music. In addition to being a great learner, Peekay realizes that he has great abilities to adapt. He uses these skills and learns a most important lesson about the power within himself: the power of one.

By chance I checked out the YA version of this novel, so the adult version carries the story farther—at some point I think I will enjoy reading that. The Power of One wasn’t a quick or easy read, but it was thought-provoking and inspirational. I don’t like boxing, but appreciated the discipline and thinking that went into it. Some of the fight scenes (both boxing and bullying) were fairly graphic, so I did skim some of those descriptions. It was also interesting to read about South Africa, especially during WWII. I think it would be intriguing to learn more about that country’s history and how the different groups function together.

Thanks to Jody at Mud Hut Mama for recommending this author/book! :) 

Peekay’s interest in boxing changed his future. What have you learned that has shaped your life? 


  1. I was wondering when I would see a post from you about a book I had read and here it is. I read this years ago (although not the YA version) and loved it but had completely forgotten about it until recently when I found another Bryce Courtenay book - Four Fires. It's about Australia and also has some boxing in it. I'm not a boxing fan but I love the way he tells stories of a place through his characters.

  2. I enjoyed reading one of "your picks!" I wonder if Courtenay was also a boxer? Did you know he died recently? I would never have noticed that story except you'd just recommended him, so the headline jumped out at me.

  3. I didn't know that - what a shame. I'm embarrassed to admit that I still haven't finished Four Fires - I am thoroughly enjoying it but just can't find the time to pick it up as much as I would like. I will definitely be looking for more of his books.