The Power of One


T is for The Power of One by Bryce Courteney. All right, the title is essentially a P, but I am fitting this one in because it is one of my all-time favorite books. And it is the correct title. 🙂

I picked up my first copy of The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay in paperback off the shelf in a grocery or Wal-Mart type store in preparation for the trip that took my family from Texas to Indiana. I was about to be a junior in high school and the move was not our first (or last), but it was one of the biggest.

It turned out to be the perfect book at the perfect time. Has that happened to you before? It’s incredible when it happens and this was one of those times.

Bryce Courtenay crafts an expansive tale taking us from our main character’s early childhood to his young adulthood through some extreme difficulties and beautifully triumphant moments. The novel is Peekay’s story, but is also a story of South Africa.

Courtenay paints a colorful story so vivid you can feel the heat as Peekay watches his first boxing match and starts learning about the Power of One. You imagine the cacti in the garden Doc has planted as he helps Peekay’s budding genius find roots. You wince as Peekay starts climbing in the ring, but you cheer and cry and read again and again how Peekay topples opponent after opponent. You can imagine the debates and laughter between Peekay and Morrie and feel a little proud as they make some crazy things happen together.

I loved the language and descriptions. I loved the So Real You Feel You Know Them characters. I loved the relationships between the characters that Courtenay builds and lets us see. I love the simple little scenes and the big moment scenes.

But the biggest love I have for this book, and what I think is best about any of our favorite books, is how it made me feel. I was the scared little boy in the beginning of the book, feeling weak and powerless. But then I got to grow from that weakness into newfound strength. I went from being alone and feeling invisible to being honored and respected, even if it had some mystical meaning behind it all I didn’t fully understand. I got to see little beat big and feel like maybe anything was possible.

My life was nowhere as challenging. I was just a Texas high school girl moving to a new state and another new high school. But even though my challenges were far different, I was still encouraged by (and thoroughly enjoyed) this book.

I have read it more times than I can tell you. I have purchased the book 3 or 4 times because paperbacks couldn’t last. The trade paperback I have now is in good shape though. I am probably about due to read it again. (Adds to my TBR pile.)

Yes, there is a movie that was made based off the book, but it is extremely disappointing. They cut out Doc, who is one of the best characters, and they stick in a love interest! I love a good love story but that did not belong in a movie based on this book. The book is always better, of course, but the movie that’ll play in your head as you read Courtenay’s descriptions far exceeds that pitiful one.

I will say there are some
scenes that area bit tough. This is not an easy world where Peekay lives. But go read this one. The really tough scenes are important to the overall story. It is also a tiny bit lengthy. But I really think you’ll be glad you went on this journey.

And like me, you may go back again and again.