Monday, June 9, 2014

South of Broad

I read Beach Music by Pat Conroy last year and I wanted to check out another one of his stories when I had more time, aka the summer.  It did not disappoint.  It's over 400 pages so make sure you have time set aside because you will not want to walk away from the story.  I stayed up late, drug it in the car, and spent whatever previous free moments I had soaking it up. 

Description:  Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.

Leo is the narrator and I felt so badly for his childhood.  His mother was just not a loving type of mother.  We enter his life in the summer before his senior year and he just then finds out that his mother used to be a nun.  That is kind of a shocker when apparently other people in his life knew about it but didn't share it with him.  However, Leo's world was rocked after his beloved older brother killed himself, when he was 10.  Leo's adolescence and his parents lives were markedly different than he beginning years of his life.

I will say that just basing off of reading one of his other books, he does have a way with dysfunctional families in his stories, however his own upbringing was dysfunctional from what I understand.  Sometimes the conversational language between people was a tad unbelievable
but overall the story is good.  He is windy, but not so bad that you can't skim a paragraph or two and forgive the first chapter of the book.  I almost put it down but I took a deep breath and gave it a shot. ;)

Conroy just as a way with tragedy and dysfunction that no matter the amount of words that surround it I will keep reading.  That and I love books set in the south and Charleston is a beautiful setting with a history to dig up rich characters.

What author/s are you planning on reading this summer?

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