Sunday, May 30, 2010

South of Broad

South of Broad

Pat Conroy

5 out of 5

I don't quite understand reviewers who dwell on the past efforts of an author and then drone on endlessly about how so and so book didn't live up to their personal expectations and then follow up with the slamming of an author when they write the same book over and over. Really? What does an author have to do to please the masses?

South of Broad is a wonderful story told in the first person narrative of Leo Bloom King beginning on Bloomsday, June 16, 1969 in Charleston, South Carolina when Leo is starting out on his senior year of high school.

Leo's life so far has not been easy, he found his brother after a suicide in the family home. The brother that was the golden child. The brother that everyone loved and worshiped. The brother that he could never live up to. Leo always considered himself the ugly one, the afterthought, the one that was never quite good enough. After years in mental institutions and medication, Leo is now on his way to his final year in school. A school where everyone knows his story and his mother, a rather stern woman, is the principal and expects just a little bit more from her son.

The trite expression of "this is the first day of the rest of your life" is quite true for Leo. This is the day that he will unexpectantly meet his life long friends. A band of damaged misfits that all come together and with the love and guidance that a person can only dream of from friends, create lives that are both horrendous and fulfilling at the same time.

Everything is in this book, love, lust, loss, longing, lamenting, and loneliness all played out against the largest character of them all, the city of Charleston. Conroy draws such beautiful and complete pictures of the town and its people that you are there. You can feel their heartache and their love.

As the book concludes, 20 remarkable years have passed and Hurricane Hugo is bearing down on this stunning town, a killer is on the loose and every life in Leo's little world will be affected. Truths will come out, people will show their true colors and Leo will draw his loved ones close and tell a beautiful story to the next generation that has you hoping that life really can have a happily ever after ending.

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