Sunday, August 8, 2010
South of Broad
Although I am a middle school librarian, I do take the time to savor adult books every now and then. I love Pat Conroy. I have loved Pat Conroy from the moment I read his first novel, The Great Santini. Once again, he didn’t disappoint me. Finishing the last page of South of Broad, I am moved beyond words at this intricate story of heartache, family, and friendship set in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. At the beginning of the story, we are introduced to eighteen-year-old Leo King, our narrator, who has experienced more than any child should due to the tragic death of his favored, older brother and his own recovery in mental hospitals. Once home, he looks across his historic city and vows that he will make himself a worthy citizen of this beloved place. His life completely changes when he meets the twins who have moved into the house across the street, two orphans who are runaways from Atlanta, and the first African-American football coach at his high school – the year is 1969. This story is told over a span of twenty-one years with suspenseful twists and turns. The powerful message is that “family” doesn’t only consist of the ones we are related to by blood; our dearest friends will rescue and embrace us during our most dire times in life. My oldest son, who usually has to be prompted to take time to read a book, picked up this book and couldn’t put it down. When he was finished, he told me that it was the best book he’d ever read. Although he is only eighteen years old, I am so happy to know that Pat Conroy had the same effect on him as he did me all those years ago. Guess what my son is now reading? You guessed it – The Great Santini!