Tuesday, January 19, 2010

South of Broad

I have been a fan of Pat Conroy's since I read Lords of Discipline (so good!) more than 10 years ago. I knew when I saw South of Broad on the Express Shelf that I would love it. South of Broad is the story of Leo 'Toad' Bloom, a teenager in 1969 Charleston. He has had some missteps in life following his brother's suicide. Drugs, mental institutes, etc. It is the summer before his senior year and his mother, the school principal, is determined to have Leo do his community service at her will. These tasks let him meet lifelong friends, help along integration, and break down class and social barriers in his school and town.

The story skips ahead to Leo and his friends as adults as they delve deeper into some of their sordid histories and get into a little bit of trouble. This part was very suspenseful! The story then goes back to the group's senior year of high school and then back again to adulthood. The time jumping was very effective. It helped move the story along at a nice pace while divulging all sorts of exposition in an untiresome (that is not a word) way.

Conroy is quite the story-teller. And his imagery, fuhgeddaboutit. The characters are damaged and real. The story is sad and happy and troubled. It felt good to read fiction of substance. South of Broad.....two thumbs up!

P.S. I think I fixed the Comments so you don't have to have a gmail account. Give it a try!

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