Boulder City Magazine® September 2010 Issue
by Fran Haraway
South of Broad
by Pat Conroy
Leopold Bloom King, a young man who counts his home town of Charleston, South Carolina as among his greatest loves, is the son of a high school science teacher and the principal of that same high school - a lady who is also a highly-respected James Joyce scholar.
Boulder City Magazine®
|In the summer of 1969, Leo, aka Toad, is ready to face his senior year as the funny-looking kid who has always been a victim. Actually, he’s developed some wonderful coping skills, considering that his brother’s death sent him into a mental hospital.
On Bloom Day (that would be June 16, the day that the entire story of James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place), 1969, Leo has some interesting challenges. First, he finds out that his mother used to be a nun. Then he introduces himself to his new across-the-street neighbors - the gorgeous, charismatic, talented and psychically wounded Sheba and Trevor Poe. Next, he meets Niles and Starla Whitehead, two hate and despair-filled orphans who are chained to chairs in his mother’s office. At lunch he makes the acquaintance of Molly Huger and Chadworth Rutledge X - two self-involved, shallow and very rich kids (and their enabling parents) who are coming to Leo’s high school because of cocaine problems at their previous institution of learning. Finally he has to report to the new football coach, Coach Jefferson, who is black. (Did I mention that this is South Carolina in 1969?)
The rest of this I-couldn’t-put-it-down novel chronicles the lifelong friendships shared by all these teens as, through the years, they deal with betrayal, mystery, danger and even murder, but they always face their problems together, even when one of them is the problem - a situation that happens more than once. From Leo’s first challenge of making the white boys come back to the football team even though their parents refuse to let them play for a black coach, to his dealing with the dramas and traumas of his friends, his self-proclaimed “need to make corrections in a flawed and dangerous world” makes for an absolutely unforgettable novel.
If you are interested in this book or would like to learn more, contact me at info@bouldercity magazine.com.
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