The Power of One - by Bryce Courtenay
The Power of One

"the power of the Power of One"

     When I first picked up The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay I wasn’t too excited. It was just another book about growing up. But when I finally started to read I was presently surprised. The Power of One is a book about the boy Peekay, a rooinek (Englishman living in South Africa) and his journey of personal development as he travels throughout South Africa. In the minority among the Afrikaners, Peekay overcomes physical, racial, and mental barriers as he works to accomplish his goal of being welterweight boxing champ of the world. He boxes like there’s no tomorrow and strives to further his education. This book teaches you that one’s own independence is all you need to realize your dreams. 

      All along the path of his journey, Peekay has teachers who help him with many different transitions. There is Granpa Chook, his faithful chicken, who accompanies him through his harsh boarding school experience and teaches him to always maintain an undying fighting spirit. On a train to his new home in Barberton, Peekay meets Hopie Groenewald, an amateur boxer who tells him to “fight first with your head, and then with your heart.” In Barberton he meets Doc, a drunken German music teacher who gives Peekay the majority of his education.  

      This book has everything: mysticism, adventure, personal struggle, modern racism, and much, much more. The Power of One is such a great novel because of the depth and variety of its content, and because of this, it engages the reader so it is almost unbearable to have to put the book down. The rich plot overflows with twists and turns that make it a real page turner. The book is over 500 pages long, but it seems more like 200.  

      Bryce uses many descriptive phrases and figurative language to make you feel like you are looking through Peekay’s eyes. Every bush, cactus, mountain, and boxing match appears before your eyes as you experience the breath taking story. When Bryce says, “The sun had just risen and was not yet warm enough to lap the dew from the grass, but it was sharp enough to polish the air,” you can feel the cool morning air whistling through your hair.

      The Power of One is a grand read fit for any occasion. This novel is about growing up and one’s own personal development which makes it great for teenagers. Courtenay’s magical power of storytelling makes the book impossible to put down, and the plot makes it unforgettable. The reader develops such an attachment to the characters that you wish that the story would never end. It truly makes you believe in the power of one.

   - Taylor P.

"Peekay works become welterweight champion of the world."

     A tale of courage and belief in oneself is beautifully penned in Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One. Set in the late 30’s and 40’s in South Africa, the novel tells the tale of a young boy and his struggle to carry out his dreams.

    Peekay’s life is stained with humiliation and cruelty as an English man’s son in South Africa after the Boer War, but he swears to overcome all odds by becoming the Welterweight champion of the world. After surviving a boarding school where, at the age of five, he is tortured by the Boer boys, Peekay meets Hoppie, a welterweight railway man who will soon leave to fight in World War II. Peekay is introduced to boxing, and he gains a love for it.  He embarks on a lesson in life and human nature before achieving his goal. With a whole host of friends, teachers, and enemies, Peekay grows into a young adult who is ready to take on anything.

    The Power of One is overall a pleasing read, filled with memorable characters and powerful lessons of human nature at its base. The characters are memorable so that you will always recognize one if reintroduced. The book has a simple writing style that is easy to read and understand, though I would not suggest this to a younger sister or brother. Next time you're jonesing for a tale of courage and hope, pick up this page-turner.

   - Arianne K.