The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay is one of my all time favorite books. I was overjoyed to see a young readers condensed version available and snapped it up. It is an historic novel set in South Africa 1939 and carries you through the next 17 years of history. The central figure is 5 year old Peekay who is sent away to boarding school which turns out to be a very tortured experience for him. As you follow his life you will meet the people who will make a difference in how he views his relationship to the world. He spoke the wrong language, English and was nurtured by the wrong colored woman, black and he would know extreme lonliness until the conductor from his train introduces him to the world of boxing and believing in himself, "lead first with the head and follow with the heart". A German botanist is a neighbor and becomes Peekay's educator and his close friend as they become involved in the plight of the black South African prisoners and the affects of WWII on his German friend. He would strive to become the lightweight champion of the world and through this goal he would learn the power of the individual with words and it's ability to change lives as well as his victories in the ring. It is a gritty book and it would take a very mature young adult reader to grasp the content of the book and not be put off by the graphic portrayal of some of Peekay's life experiences. I would recommend it for High School and adult.
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