One can often find oneself engrossed in a book, believing/wanting it to be the real world while you are reading it. However, this illusion of reality disappears the moment the pages are closed and the book is rested again on the shelf. The reader walks away enjoyed and often enriched by the experience, but rarely disillusioned by what is reality.
Not so with The Power of One. With this book you find yourself days after finishing it, wondering if it was in fact a true story, if Peekay did endure all that torment and rose above it, if he did in fact find redemption.
Perhaps this is because apparently the story is very loosely based on the author, Bryce Courtenay’s, life. Although many of the details have changed and the story takes a different arc, he was a child in South Africa, he did learn to box in order to survive, and there was – supposedly – a Doc that he knew upon moving to Barberton.
But the story, sadly, is fiction. It pulls you in in spectacular fashion and makes you hope upon hope that it’s true, that someone with such strength and endurance does exist, that you can meet this person and shake their hand.
The story itself follows the journey of Peekay, a boy who grew up in WWII, pre-apartheid South Africa. It follows him through the many trials of his life, through the immense bullying and through the psychological journey towards redemption. It follows this boy as he works towards developing the power of one (get it?).
It is a brilliant, albeit slightly brutal, story that is a must for any avid reader’s shelf. It will keep you hooked right until the last word on the last page.
Just make sure you have the strength to put it down. Its 600 pages may make you miss out on sleep or make you late for work a few times if you aren’t careful.
Oh, and though the movie is also excellent, they are two separate entities, so don’t expect the same storyline from both.