Monday, March 8, 2010

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

In Pat Conroy’s latest book, South of Broad, he writes in first person as the character, Leopold Bloom King. The story begins in 1969 when Leo, a junior in high school, is asked by his mother, the principal, to befriend some new students that will begin the new school year with him. They include a set of twins who move in across the street, a pair of brother and sister orphans, an aristocratic brother and sister (and his girlfriend), and an African American teen who will be one of the first to be integrated into public school. All of these teens become quite a group and we follow them into adulthood. This friendship begins at a time when Leo is just beginning to feel like a “real person” again after going through years of treatment for mental illness that he suffered after finding his older, athletic, popular and handsome brother dead in the bathtub from suicide.

Conroy, as always, gives wonderful details of his surroundings (Charleston, SC), his characters and their feelings. There are numerous twists and turns throughout the novel with plenty of opportunities for Kleenex! It is a novel that keeps you on the edge and waiting for the next thing to happen.  It was a very enjoyable read. 

By Randy Rowell