South of Broad

South of Broad

by Pat Conroy

Debbie Weiss (02/11/12): While South of Broad is not my favorite Pat Conroy book, I did enjoy reading it a lot. I fell in love with the main character, Leo King (also known as "Toad"), who was a sweet, compassionate, witty young man who overcame many obstacles in his short life. Losing his older brother, whom everyone loved --- and was his hero ---was just the beginning of his challenges. Other reviewers have indicated that they did not think that the character development in this novel was up to Conroy's usual exemplary standards. This might be true, but I did feel as though I got to know and understand the majority of the major characters very well. Perhaps the reason that this book appealed to me so much is that it revolved around a group of friends that met very early in life whose friendships persisted as they grew into adulthood. I, too, have many wonderful friends that I met as a child, who remain my "family" even today. I could relate to the special bond that they all shared with each other. I didn't want the book to end.
Rating: ****

Gail Reid: South of Broad is the story of an unlikely group of high school friends whose senior year bonding experience takes them through a 20 year period into their late thirties. A few of the characters are memorable. For example, the mother is the high school principal as well an expert on Joyce's Ulysses and a former nun. Others are contrived, stereotypical and one-dimensional.

But let me stress the good points: South of Broad is a wonderful homage to Charleston. Conroy truly loves the city and describes it with passion. The impact of Hurricane Hugo is vividly drawn and powerfully written. The whole story line is too melodramatic and maudlin for me. I would rather remember Pat Conroy for the story and the writing in Prince of Tides.
Rating: ***

Judy Stanton: I am a major Pat Conroy fan. I've read everyone of his books, except maybe the cook book. South of Broad had some interesting characters and interweaving plots, but I have to say it was not my favortie Pat Conroy book. I just didn't think it was up to his high standards in both language and plot development. In his other books, for example, you really get to know...and despise...his abusive father. But in this book, the father of his actress friend is evil, but not well developed. He did have quite a few characters in this book, and others were more well rounded. I guess the whole story of an unlikely group of friends getting close just didn't grab me. It's not a bad read, just not Conroy's best, in my opinion.
Rating: ***

Barb Crout: South of Broad Street in Charleston SC is a section of beautiful homes, snug in a magical city that is filled with wonderfully unique people. Leo King is a boy of 18 when the story begins. He is a newspaper carrier for the News and Courier, and this is his paper route. He is the son of a brilliant, stern and humorless mother, an ex-nun, who now serves as Principal of a local high school; and a loving, witty father, "the finest man you will ever meet in Heaven". At age 9 he survives an unspeakable tragedy which will forever change his life, and he has spent years under psychiatric care.

This is a story of family, old friends, new friends and accidental acquaintantces that weave in and out of his life through suicide, bigotry, infidelity, murder, celebrity and a monster hurricane named Hugo. A powerful book by one of the South's best known authors and "a great American writer who's passion for life and language knows no bounds".
Rating: *****

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