Rebecca C. (Opelika, AL)
South of Broad, Southern, Unlikely friendships
Pat Conroy has written another hit. This one is a based in Charleston, South Carolina and is a story of unlikely friendships that start in High School and last a lifetime. Leo King is eight years old when he finds his ten year old brother who has committed suicide. This tragedy colors the rest of his life and brings him to gather a motley crew of friends his senior year in high school. This group of friends stays together over a lifetime and can always count on each other.
Leo's mother never liked him because he was not his beautiful brother Steve. She was always telling him how ugly, stupid, and crazy he was. I could relate to Leo so much. I had the very same mother! Leo grew up in the south during integration just as I did and was just one year younger than me. We had the same experiences with our high schools being integrated, the fear, anger, hatred and finally acceptance.
Twenty years later, the group is pulled into a mystery when Sheba, now a movie star, asks for their help in finding her twin brother Trevor. Although Pat Conroy is wonderful at building characters, describing the location and making you feel a real part of the story, he is not really into keeping us on the edge of our seat in the mystery department. It was pretty easy to figure out everything long before the answer was revealed but it did not take anything away from the story at all because his skills at writing a believable story are amazing.
Being a southerner myself and very familiar with Charleston, I could see each street and house and walled garden as it was being described. I have also spent many days in San Francisco so I could picture the rundown neighborhoods and the mansion on the coast. And for those of you not familiar with these locations, Mr. Conroy has masterfully painted a magical picture for you to treasure.
I could not put this book down once I picked it up and as soon as I finish passing it around to all my friends, I plan on reading it again.