Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Contemplative, Introspective, "Loaded," as they say
Because the narrative is told in retrospect by an older and (maybe) wiser Gene, A Separate Peace is infused with a sense of reflection. Anecdotes are interspersed with long, contemplative musings on war, youth, the past. At times, the tone can feel just a little heavy-handed, but we'll be less judgmental and call it "loaded," as in loaded with lots of symbolic meaning. For example: "Isn't the bone supposed to be stronger when it grows together over a place where it's been broken once?" (11.15). Also known as "Let me talk about our friendship in thinly veiled metaphorical language." You get the idea.