3 out of 5 stars
I'd never heard of this book before until it was recommended by several people that I follow. I can't say that I loved it or really connected with it, but it was overall a decent book. My stepbrother is going into the Marines this fall, maybe I should let him read it. He seems like the perfect person for this book...young, male, possibility of going into a war.
So this is a story about a boys' boarding school in New Hampshire, set in the beginning of World War II. Gene is attending the summer session before his senior year, along with his roommate and best friend, Phineas. (That is a great name) Although the two boys are best friends, they seem to have a competition going, at least in Gene's mind they do. Gene is super smart and a decent athlete, but he has to work for it. Phineas is a natural at a lot of things, but just doesn't bother trying most of the time. He is an enigmatic character, always able to make people laugh and feel better about themselves, always able to get out of any scrapes he causes. And he does get into a lot. Gene finds himself dragged along whether he wants to or not, like jumping off a tree limb over the lake. This was the scene of an incident that changed both boys' lives forever.
This book is pretty slow-moving at times. The narrator, Gene, is telling us these things that happened and how he feels, but he seems so removed from the whole story. Maybe if it had jumped from Gene to Phineas' head it would have been more interesting. We're supposed to feel the remorse and guilt seeping out of Gene, but it just isn't there. I honestly felt that Leper, a friend of theirs, was far more interesting and believable as a character. Leper is always on the outskirts of the "cool group" and kind of a quirky individual. He decides to enlist in the army, so that he can choose his own path, but it turns out he is not meant for the army. Leper's story was more heartbreaking, to me, than what happened with Gene & Phineas. I'm not giving spoilers here, because I do think it is worth reading, for the right person. And that may be you. :)