The island is nearly deserted, haunting, beautiful. Across a slip of ocean lies South Carolina. But for the handful of families on Yamacraw island, America is a world away. For years the people here lived proudly from the sea, but now its waters are not safe. Waste from industry threatens their very existence – unless, somehow, they can learn a new life. But they will learn nothing without someone to teach them, and their school has no teacher.
©2010 Pat Conroy (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"A hell of a good story." (The New York Times)
After reading all his big books, I took this one on recently and was thrilled that it didn't read like a memoir in the traditional sense. It reads like fiction and it feels like truth. If I have one complaint about it, it is that for the audio, I would have liked Pat's voice instead of the narrator. The narrator was good, but Pat's distinctive voice would have made this even more wonderful.
Conroy describes and quotes the students from Yamacraw Island in such an amusing and endearing way that it's hard not to fall in love with them. Dan John Miller, who did such an amazing job narrating Lords of Discipline, once again brings each characther to life with his superb narration. I found this book fascinating as it describes Conroy's early life as a teacher and touches on many of the stories that he used in later novels. He also describes some real life characters (including himself) who are recognizable from his other books.
I have only listened but I have to say, the narrator really made this book fun!
As I said above, he really made the book fun! His interpretation of the kids was fabulous!
I am a huge Pat Conroy fan - this is by far by fave!
Pat Conroy's prose is so raw and real that Yamacraw Island springs to life over the pages of the book. I saw Conrack when I was young, and while it was a great movie in its time, it didn't capture nearly the depth of emotion that the Water is Wide contains. From the love for the children to the anger at the administration, Conroy captures the passion of a young man who doesn't understand injustice, or the "way things are done". Written in the early 70's Conroy employs language that is seldom heard today in our politically correct society, but that those of us who lived through that time remember ashamedly. This book works on every level, great characters, a love of humanity, an interesting story, wonderful setting, historical window, and fine writing.
A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!
Conroy shares his experience teaching on an isolated island off the South Carolina coast in the 1960s. Truthfully, I'm not sure if it was the writing on the story that makes me rate this a 3 (it was ok) versus something higher. You can imagine what his teaching experience on an isolated island, largely left alone by modern day, was like: poor families, students who could not read and did not know that the name of their country was the United States of America, an education system controlled on the mainland that treated this remote island and its students as second, or even third, class citizens, and the list can go on. To his credit, Conroy devoted himself to the students and island, realized that they needed additional experiences and opportunities, and took risks to get his students what they needed, which of course gets him fired. It's sad, and even a little embarrassing, to me that we have allowed lesser education for needier students in our country in the past, as detailed in this story. And I'm not naïve, it's probably still happening today. This book came to me highly recommended, and I would simply recommend it. It's not near the top of all the books I've read, but it was a good read.(
Yes. Pat Conroy is a very descriptive writer. His use of words brought the characters to life.
Having visited the Bluffton, SC area many times, I could picture all the places Mr. Conroy was describing.
I don't know if he is from the South. But, I felt like I was taken there with the voices he used for different characters.
At the beginning, I did have an angry reaction. I had to remember that this book was written 30 years ago. Although I realize that things haven't completely changed for our black families in the South, I hope it hasn't remained this cruel. I, also, realized that he needed to be this explicit in order for the reader to fully understand the inequity in the education rendered for the children of Yamacaw.
Among the best.
The fact that it was about a real teacher-parents-pupils situation. The parts describing the black children and their life on the island were very informative and revelatory. The whole book sometimes reminded me of McCourt's Teacher Man, another favourite of mine.
I don t think I have, but this one was absolutely great. He has an infinite number of voices!
You can t change the world, but trying to do so produces a good book.
Another book which will hopefully reduce the gap between blacks and whites.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
The historical account of Pat Conroy's teaching experience on the island of South Carolina's coast caused a rush of emotions for me. Having grown up in the same volatile era myself, I was both angry and sympathetic to his situation. Pat himself notes that had he been a little older and more mature, he may have handled the situation differently, thus prolonging his teaching years on the island. I very much enjoyed the tales of his interaction with the students, parents and inhabitants of Yamacraw Island, which were both funny and endearing. I found much of what he had to say about the Vietnam war, hunting, religion and HIMSELF to be very short sighted and one sided. He did many good things with his students, one of the most important being teaching them that they could go anywhere and be ANYTHING that they choose. But long term, a teacher cannot be friends with his students, bringing them home to spend the night at his house, cussing and taking the Lord's name in vain. While it may improve the child's self esteem, it does not prepare a student for life in the workplace or the professional world at large. The biggest thing that Mr. Conroy did is FIGHT for and LOVE the kids and families of the island, give them a voice, which was desperately needed. For that, I have great respect for Pat Conroy.
I loved this story. My husband and I listened to the audio version. This narrator was wonderful. We thoroughly enjoyed it. This is an excellent read for teachers and parents alike. The only slight problem I had with the story was the cursing. I'm just not used to it. It was bearable though, well worth the listening to.
This book could have been written today and describes the workings of school boards, vengeful "old school" administrators, southern attitudes and reflections of predjudices that are still looming. Maybe not as flagrantly spoken today, but just as insidious. So well written through the eyes of a young, idealistic white teacher setting out to try to make a difference only to find out the hard way, being right isn't always rewarded with a pat on the back from on high.
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