A Separate Peace
A story from John Ratliff:
As has often been the case, we read the book together. This time, however, she was away at camp and unavailable for our normal daily discussions of the chapters we had recently devoured. But when she returned we went over the questions her summer novel assignment posed. She had already tackled most of them. I had very little to add.
During the past seven years we have read over fifty books together. Some were assigned school work, some were modern young adult novels, some were action-adventure series, some were classics, some were just for fun: The Outsiders, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, To Kill A Mockingbird, Percy Jackson, Dora The Explorer, The Color Purple, A Prayer For Owen Meany, The Fault In Our Stars… In the beginning, I had to be tough in order to keep her focused but eventually she experienced that wonderful second wind that magically flips reading a novel from drudgery to exultation. I pushed her until I was sure she had experienced the thrill of not being able to put a book down and the wonderful regret when you’ve finished and have to say goodbye to the characters.
Whenever possible after reading a book we watch the film adaptation, as was the case last night. There is a scene in ‘A Separate Peace’ where Phineas is pushing Gene to train for the winter olympics. Gene hates everything about running but his friend refuses to let him quit. And then, one day, quiet unexpectedly, Gene experiences the second wind. As the endorphins kick in, he accelerates through the rest of his run, crossing the finish line in triumph. Phineas sees it and says, “There you go, now you’ve got it! That’s why I drove you so hard! Even if you only experience it once in your life, it was all worth it, don’t you think?”
“Absolutely,” Gene replies, “Absolutely!”
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