Saturday, February 27, 2010

Book Review - South of Broad by Pat Conroy

I'm a long-time fan of Pat Conroy. Haven't read all his stuff, but seriously, The Prince of Tides ranks up there with Gone With the Wind for me. So it was with great patience that I waited for this new novel by Pat Conroy to make its way into my BOMC2 book club by mail.

Set in Charleston (a city that MUST be on my to-visit-one-day list), and containing many of Conroy's usual themes, he tells a contemporary-ish story (to anyone who went to school in the 1970's) and moves it forward to almost current day. A high school boy nick-named "Toad" is commissioned by his strong and unique school principal mother to take a few new students - misfits - under his wing. Toad has had his own troubles and they are awful.

The misfits are some newcomers to the neighborhood who had a difficult background; a brother/sister from the local orphanage, who have lots of baggage; and the son of the new football coach, who happens to be Black, during the first year of integration at this high school. A few Catholic themes thrown in, movie stars, unrequited love, heroism, genuine psychotics, AIDS, and a hurricane.

Maybe a couple of hokey bits are put in to tie the story together, but Conroy is forgiven for this because his books are about his characters. And I think I fell for the Toad myself.
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