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Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite
What a fascinating idea! To be perfectly honest, I find it hard to imagine the circumstances where this might actually take place, but it is still a great idea to think about. At some point in the future, school is separated by gender. Eventually life is separated by gender, and there comes a time when most members of the opposite sex don't even know that there is an opposite sex. There have been some great novels about the differences between the sexes. The Handmaid's Tale showed the U.S. regressing in our treatment of women. Wonder Woman showed us an island where only women lived and those women don't think very much of men. All these are great ideas, but I think The Separation by Thomas Duffy is the best book I have ever read that illustrates the differences, similarities, and ultimately the interdependence between men and women. I liked it. I liked it a lot, and I'm still thinking about it.
The Separation is one of those rare books whose idea trumps characters, plot, setting, and everything else. Of course, all these other elements of a novel play a vital role in how Thomas Duffy tells his tale, but it is the idea itself that is the main jewel in this crown. Finn is a great character. I like him, but again, it is his situation that makes him compelling, just as much as it is his personality or any other trait. Once Thomas Duffy had this idea, the next step was how to present it. In other words, how will this play out? The answer to that question is called plot, and the plot of The Separation is good, though I think any plot would fall a little short of this idea. It's hard to tell you how special The Separation is. But it is easy to tell you how good it is. It is great.