Tuesday, June 8, 2010

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

South of Broad by Pat Conroy is the story of a misfit boy and his journey into adulthood accompanied by an interesting group of friends and a truly difficult family. In spite of his mother's detachment and the turbulent backdrop of the 1960's and 1970's, Leo manages to become the kind of man everyone wants to know. The book takes the reader along as Leo navigates life in aristocratic Charleston, SC (otherwise known as south of Broad Street). The story continues with Leo's adult life and the obstacles him and his life-long friends are forced to overcome. The book is a series of twists, turns, and false endings, but somehow Conroy makes it work.

If you have ever been to Charleston, SC or even seen a picture of it for that matter, you will enjoy this book. The historic city is just as much a character in the story as Leo, his devout Catholic mother, or his flamboyant neighbor. You can almost smell Hyman's seafood and the brine in the air. The plot is full of so many seperate climaxes that it could really have been turned into two seperate books, but it flows together well enough that it is easy to overlook. I've heard a few grumbles from other readers about the ending, but I am of the opinion that it couldn't have ended any other way. If you want to decide for yourself, I guess you'll just have to pick up a copy and head south of Broad.