Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
PW wrote of Bryce Courtenay's 1989 adult book, "Episodic and bursting with incident, this sprawling memoir of an English boy's lonely childhood in South Africa during WWII pays moderate attention to questions of race but concerns itself primarily with epic melodrama." In The Power of One: Young Readers' Condensed Version, the author adapts the first half of his semi-autobiographical tale, but keeps all of the action in the boxing ring and the David and Goliath message of victory over adversity. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 6 Up-The opening chapters of this haunting autobiographical novel, set in small-town South Africa during World War II, are as bleak and violent as anything written for young people. Five-year-old Peekay is the only English-speaking boy in a harsh Afrikaans-language boarding school. He is urinated on by a pack of older boys, and then beaten for it by the matron. Although he endures many losses, he grows through his experiences. His goal is to become a boxer, and the story shows how hard work can lead to success. Peekay forges loving relationships with adults, most notably Doc, a German professor. When Doc is detained as an enemy alien, Peekay's life becomes intertwined with the local prison. It is there that he learns to box and becomes a secret ally of the black prisoners. Courtenay's deft and chillingly accurate characterization of the Afrikaner prison warders. The author is unsparing in his portrayal of the brutality meted out to prisoners and in his depiction of racist speech. Courtenay's ear for dialogue is impressive, and he consistently captures the cadences of South African speech. Peekay's story is written in a direct, almost childlike style, which sometimes seems bland, but readers will be swept along by the events in the protagonist's life. The book packs a powerful emotional punch, evoking horror, laughter, and empathy. It is a condensed version of the first part of Courtenay's adult book of the same title, and the ending feels artificial and unresolved. In all, this is an extraordinary and unusual survival story, and one that should inspire young people feeling battered by the circumstances of their own lives.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 9-12. I went in under the arm with a quick uppercut and caught him in the ribs. The sports action is exciting in this story about Peekay, a white English-speaking boy in rural South Africa during World War II, who becomes a talented boxer and dreams of being welterweight champion of the world. With the help of several mentors, including an Afrikaner, a German botanist and pianist, a Coloured (mixed-race) worker in the local jail, a brave librarian, and a Jewish teacher, Peekay not only wins the local boxing championship but helps desperate African chain-gang prisoners send letters home. The original book was published for adults and made into a movie with Morgan Freeman; this effective condensation for YAs gives a sense of personal uplift, despite the virulent racism, but American teens won't get the complex political history. What is timeless is the picture of the sport and the kid who takes on the giants and wins. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2005 Booklist
Horn Book Review
This episodic, melodramatic adaptation of an adult novel tells the story of Peekay, who grows up in South Africa and endures abandonment, bullying, and humiliation for speaking English and for being raised by a black woman. Overcoming adversity, Peekay eventually becomes a welterweight boxing champion. The book effectively portrays racial injustice in WWII-era South Africa during apartheid. Glos. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.