Friday Morning Bookclub

February 16, 2011

South Of Broad By Pat Conroy

Filed under: Book Recomendations,South Of Broad — susanbright @ 2:51 pm

 

I didn’t realize how much I liked Pat Conroy’s latest novel, South of Broad until I had actually finished reading it. I am going to miss all of the colorful characters who happened to live in Charleston, South Carolina and attend Peninsula High. Although many of them were troubled individuals and had their flaws, I grew to care for each one of them.

The narrator of the story is Leopold Bloom King, named Bloom by his mother because of her obsession with the Irish writer James Joyce,  whose life is celebrated in Dublin on June 16th, and is referred to as Bloomsday.  After  Leo’s “perfect”  brother Steve had committed suicide, Leo’s life had spun out of control and he was working hard to once again find peace and happiness.

  The story begins on June 16, 1969, not only Bloomsday, but also a day that will change Leo’s life forever. After finishing his morning paper route, a job he takes very seriously, Leo is sent by his mother, the high school principal to greet and welcome several students new to the school. When we first meet runaways Starla and Niles Whitehead  they are handcuffed to their chairs at St. Judes orphanage and could not have been any more unpleasant if they had tried. Next Leo was sent to make cookies and deliver them to the family who had moved across the street from The Kings. Here we meet the glamorous twins, Sheba and Trevor Poe  who live with  their alcoholic mother and have a psychotic father.  For lunch Leo headed over to the Yacht Club to meet sister and brother Fraser and Chadworth of the wealthy Rutledge family as well as Chad’s girlfriend Molly Huger. Chad and Molly were transferring to the local high school after being expelled from a prestigious private school because of a drug violation. And if that isn’t enough for one day, next Leo is off to meet  Coach Jefferson, his new football coach who is black, and will be coaching one of the first integrated football teams in the south  and has a son Ike who will be his co-captain.

How this unlikely group becomes friends is hard to imagine. The story alternates back and forth between 1969 and 1989 and follows this group as they mature from high school students to adulthood. South of Broad has it all: Friendship, love, prejudice, marriage, suicide, murder, rape and so much more. The story is full of twists and turns.  Although some of the story lines may be a little unrealistic, you will not be able to put this book down and will definitely not want it to end.

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