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Descriptions du produit


The Mansion on the River

It was my father who called the city the Mansion on the River.
He was talking about Charleston, South Carolina, and he was a native son, peacock proud of a town so pretty it makes your eyes ache with pleasure just to walk down its spellbinding, narrow streets. Charleston was my father's ministry, his hobbyhorse, his quiet obsession, and the great love of his life. His bloodstream lit up my own with a passion for the city that I've never lost nor ever will. I'm Charleston-born, and bred. The city's two rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper, have flooded and shaped all the days of my life on this storied peninsula.
I carry the delicate porcelain beauty of Charleston like the hinged shell of some soft-tissued mollusk. My soul is peninsula-shaped and sun-hardened and river-swollen. The high tides of the city flood my consciousness each day, subject to the whims and harmonies of full moons rising out of the Atlantic. I grow calm when I see the ranks of palmetto trees pulling guard duty on the banks of Colonial Lake or hear the bells of St. Michael's calling cadence in the cicada-filled trees along Meeting Street. Deep in my bones, I knew early that I was one of those incorrigible creatures known as Charlestonians. It comes to me as a surprising form of knowledge that my time in the city is more vocation than gift; it is my destiny, not my choice. I consider it a high privilege to be a native of one of the loveliest American cities, not a high-kicking, glossy, or lipsticked city, not a city with bells on its fingers or brightly painted toenails, but a ruffled, low-slung city, understated and tolerant of nothing mismade or ostentatious. Though Charleston feels a seersuckered, tuxedoed view of itself, it approves of restraint far more than vainglory.
As a boy, in my own backyard I could catch a basket of blue crabs, a string of flounder, a dozen redfish, or a net full of white shrimp. All this I could do in a city enchanting enough to charm cobras out of baskets, one so corniced and filigreed and elaborate that it leaves strangers awed and natives self-satisfied. In its shadows you can find metalwork as delicate as lace and spiral staircases as elaborate as yachts. In the secrecy of its gardens you can discover jasmine and camellias and hundreds of other plants that look embroidered and stolen from the Garden of Eden for the sheer love of richness and the joy of stealing from the gods. In its kitchens, the stoves are lit up in happiness as the lamb is marinating in red wine sauce, vinaigrette is prepared for the salad, crabmeat is anointed with sherry, custards are baked in the oven, and buttermilk biscuits cool on the counter.
Because of its devotional, graceful attraction to food and gardens and architecture, Charleston stands for all the principles that make living well both a civic virtue and a standard. It is a rapturous, defining place to grow up. Everything I reveal to you now will be Charleston-shaped and Charleston-governed, and sometimes even Charleston-ruined. But it is my fault and not the city's that it came close to destroying me. Not everyone responds to beauty in the same way. Though Charleston can do much, it can't always improve on the strangeness of human behavior. But Charleston has a high tolerance for eccentricity and bemusement. There is a tastefulness in its gentility that comes from the knowledge that Charleston is a permanent dimple in the understated skyline, while the rest of us are only visitors.
My father was an immensely gifted science teacher who could make the beach at Sullivan's Island seem like a laboratory created for his own pleasures and devices. He could pick up a starfish, or describe the last excruciating moments of an oyster's life on a flat a hundred yards from where we stood. He made Christmas ornaments out of the braceletlike egg casings of whelks. In my mother's gardens he would show me where the ladybug disguised her eggs beneath the leaves of basil and arugula. In the Congaree Swamp, he discovered a new species of salamander that was named in his honor. There was no butterfly that drifted into our life he could not identify by sight. At night, he would take my brother, Steve, and I out into the boat to the middle of Charleston Harbor and make us memorize the constellations. He treated the stars as though they were love songs written to him by God. With such reverence he would point out Canis Major, the hound of Orion, the Hunter; or Cygnus, the Swan; or Andromeda, the Chained Lady; or Cassiopeia, the Lady in the Chair. My father turned the heavens into a fresh puzzlement of stars: “Ah, look at Jupiter tonight. And red Mars. And isn't Venus fresh on her throne?” A stargazer of the first order, he squealed with pleasure on the moonless nights when the stars winked at him in some mysterious, soul- stirring graffiti of ballet-footed light. He would clap his hands with irresistible joy on a cloudless night when he made every star in the sky a silver dollar in his pocket.
He was more North Star than father. His curiosity about the earth ennobled his every waking moment. His earth was billion-footed, with unseen worlds in every drop of water and every seedling and every blade of grass. The earth was so generous. It was this same earth that he prayed to because it was his synonym for God.
My mother is also a Charlestonian, but her personality strikes far darker harmonies than my father's did. She is God-haunted and pious in a city with enough church spires to have earned the name of the Holy City. She is a scholar of prodigious gifts, who once wrote a critique of Richard Ellman's biography of James Joyce for the New York Review of Books. For most of my life she was a high school principal, and her house felt something like the hallway of a well-run school. Among her students, she could run a fine line between fear and respect. There was not much horseplay or lollygagging about in one of Dr. Lindsay King's schools. I knew kids who were afraid of me just because she was my mother. She almost never wears makeup other than lipstick. Besides her wedding band, the only jewelry she owns is the string of pearls my father bought her for their honeymoon.
Singularly, without artifice or guile, my mother's world seemed disconsolate and tragic before she really knew how tragic life could be. Once she learned that no life could avoid the consequences of tragedy, she soft¬ened into an ascetic's acknowledgment of the illusory nature of life. She became a true believer in the rude awakening.
My older brother, Steve, was her favorite by far, but that seemed only natural to everyone, including me. Steve was blond and athletic and charismatic, and had a natural way about him that appealed to the higher instincts of adults. He could make my mother howl with laughter by telling her a story of one of his teachers or about something he had read in a book; I could not have made my mother smile if I had exchanged arm farts with the Pope in the Sistine Chapel. Because I hero-worshipped Steve, it never occurred to me to be jealous of him. He was both solicitous and protective of me; my natural shyness brought out an instinctive championing of me. The world of children terrified me, and I found it perilous as soon as I was exposed to it. Steve cleared a path for me until he died.
Now, looking back, I think the family suffered a collective nervous breakdown after we buried Steve. His sudden, inexplicable death sent me reeling into a downward spiral that would take me many years to fi ght my way out of and then back into the light. My bashfulness turned to morbidity. My alarm systems all froze up inside me. I went directly from a fearful childhood to a hopeless one without skipping a beat. It was not just the wordless awfulness of losing a brother that unmoored me but the realization that I had never bothered to make any other friends, rather had satisfied myself by being absorbed into that wisecracking circle of girls and boys who found my brother so delicious that his tagalong brother was at least acceptable. After Steve's death, that circle abandoned me before the flowers at his graveside had withered. Like Steve, they were bright and flashy children, and I always felt something like a toadstool placed outside the watch fires of their mysteries and attractions.
So I began the Great Drift when Steve left my family forever. I found myself thoroughly unable to fulfill my enhanced duties as an only child. I could not take a step without incurring my mother's helpless wrath over my raw un-Stephenness, her contempt for my not being blond and acrobatic and a Charleston boy to watch. It never occurred to me that my mother could hold against me my unfitness to transfer myself into the child she had relished and lost. For years, I sank into the unclear depths of myself, and learned with some surprise that their haunted explorations would both thrill and alarm me for the rest of my life. A measurable touch of madness was enough to send my fragile boyhood down the river, and it took some hard labor to get things right again. I could always feel a flinty, unconquerable spirit staring out of the mangroves and the impenetrable rain forests inside me, a spirit who waited with a mineral patience for that day I was to claim myself back because of my own fi erce need of survival. In the worst of times, there was something that lived in isolation and commitment that would come at my bidding and stand beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder, when I decided to face the world on my own terms.
I turned out to be a late bloomer, which I long regretted. My parents suffered needlessly because it took me so long to find my way to a place at their table. But I sighted the early signs of my recovery long before they did. My mother had given up on me at such an early age that a comeback was something she no longer even prayed for in her wildest dreams. Yet in my anonymous and underachieving high school career, I laid the foundation for a strong finish without my mother noticing that I was, at last, up to some good. I had built an impregnable castle of solitude for myself and then set out to bring that castle down, no matter how serious the collateral damage or who might get hurt.
I was eighteen years old and did not have a friend my own age. There wasn't a boy in Charleston who would think about inviting me to a party or to come out to spend the weekend at his family's beach house.
I planned for all that to change. I had decided to become the most interesting boy to ever grow up in Charleston, and I revealed this secret to my parents.
Outside my house in the languid summer air of my eighteenth year, I climbed the magnolia tree nearest to the Ashley River with the agility that constant practice had granted me. From its highest branches, I surveyed my city as it lay simmering in the hot-blooded saps of June while the sun began to set, reddening the vest of cirrus clouds that had gathered along the western horizon. In the other direction, I saw the city of rooftops and columns and gables that was my native land. What I had just promised my parents, I wanted very much for them and for myself. Yet I also wanted it for Charleston. I desired to turn myself into a worthy townsman of such a many-storied city.
Charleston has its own heartbeat and fingerprint, its own mug shots and photo ops and police lineups. It is a city of contrivance, of blueprints; devotion to pattern that is like a bent knee to the nature of beauty itself. I could feel my destiny forming in the leaves high above the city. Like Charleston, I had my alleyways that were dead ends and led to nowhere, but mansions were forming like jewels in my bloodstream. Looking down, I studied the layout of my city, the one that had taught me all the lures of attractiveness, yet made me suspicious of the showy or the makeshift. I turned to the stars and was about to make a bad throw of the dice and try to predict the future, but stopped myself in time.
A boy stopped in time, in a city of amber-colored life that possessed the glamour forbidden to a lesser angel.

From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

Praise for South of Broad

"Conroy is an immensely gifted stylist…. No one can describe a tide or a sunset with his lyricism and exactitude."—Chris Bohjalian, The Washington Post

"Conroy writes with a momentum that's impossible to resist."—People, 3 of 4 stars.
"Beautifully written throughout…. Conroy is a natural at weaving great skeins of narrative, and this one will prove a great pleasure to his many fans."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Conroy is a master of American fiction and he has proved it once again in this magnificent love letter to his beloved Charleston, and to friendships that will stand the test of time."—Bookpage
Praise for Beach Music

"Astonishing . . . stunning . . . the range of passions and subjects that brings life to every page is almost endless." —Washington Post Book World

"Blockbuster writing at its best." —Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Pat Conroy's writing contains a virtue now rare in most contemporary fiction: passion." —Denver Post

"Reading Pat Conroy is like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel." —Houston Chronicle

"Incandescent." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Grand." —Boston Globe

"Lyrical . . . evocative . . . Beach Music is one from the heart, and it beats with a vibrancy that cannot be denied." —Hartford Courant

"Breathtaking . . . perhaps the most eagerly awaited book of the year . . . a knockout." —Charlotte Observer

"Beach Music attains an almost ethereal beauty." —Miami Herald

"Few novelists write as well, and none as beautifully . . . Conroy's narrative is so fluid and poetic that it's apt to seduce you into reading just one more page, just one more chapter." —Lexington Herald-Leader

"Compelling storytelling . . . a page-turner . . . Conroy takes aim at our darkest emotions, lets the arrow fly, and hits a bull's-eye almost every time." —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

From the Hardcover edition.

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Format: Relié
My freshly shined shoes moved across the Oriental carpets as I looked for a uniformed guard to halt my progress towards the inner sanctum of the club, but the few men I passed neither noticed or spoke to me as I moved towards the murmurous conversations of the lunchtime crowd. Outside the Cooper River was lined with white sails limp in the breathless air like butterflies ..............."

I have read the Prince of Tides and Beach Music, both great and I could not wait to start Mr. Conroy's latest.
This is a masterpiece in my humble opinion and I wish I could give South of Broad more than five stars, so discerning it would be.

South is a novel that gets under your skin allowing you to remember your growing up days, partying non-stop and having long hang-outs and partaking in those things which young people generally go through before they find their place in the world and know what careers they want to pursue. Actually what they want from life period. The characters in South are diverse and have their own stories to tell.

We meet Sheba and Trevor Poe who are twins from a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic mother and a father you don't really want to know about. These beautiful twins are taken in by the compassionate King family.......the main characters of this book.

Molly Huger the socialite and Chadworth Rutledge have a love-hate relationship, and are from upscale families, but this does not stop them from being part of the circle of friends.

Niles and Starla Whitehead were poor children from the mountains who made their world amongst these folk.

Ike and Betty a black couple who appear as no nonsense people.
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c'est l'histoire d'un névrosé moche ,amoureux d'une superbe actrice sexy détraquée par son père ,qui réussit à vivre dans une tranche de temps englobant le début de l'époque du sida grâce à ses amis dans une Amérique toujours hantée par ses vieux démons racistes.c'est un hymne à la solidarité sans mièvrerie et à la fidélité en amitié.
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Par Biscotte le 24 février 2012
Format: Broché
Lecture très sympa. On suit la vie d'un groupe d'amis et on s'attache à eux et à leurs faiblesses. La mise en perspective avec le contexte historique est plutôt enrichissante.
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It is a wonderful read, it takes some time before you are really settled into this book, but tears kept streaming down my cheeks.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5 1.384 commentaires
783 internautes sur 875 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 I was excited to read this book, then very disappointed 26 juillet 2009
Par Louie's Mom - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Years ago I read Conroy's "Prince of Tides" and was enthralled with the story. After reading it I felt a certain fondness that readers sometimes feel for authors - a gratitude for the author bringing the story to me, and doing it well. I was very excited to receive this new novel of Conroy's all these years later. I didn't read any reviews of it as I wanted to come to the book with a totally open mind.

About 30 pages into "South of Broad" I began to feel uncomfortable with the book, and with reviewing it. The dialogue seemed stilted, and did not ring true, particularly in light of the ages of the main characters at the beginning. This issue continued throughout the book and I finally marked a page in order to find it again when I was finished and ready to review the book. Here is the passage I marked as an example: "Tonight, Sheba Poe" Ike says, "you're coming clean. You're going to lay it all out for us. I don't mind dying for you. I really don't. But I'd sure as hell like to know why." The reader is asked to believe that a grown, married man with a wife and children would volunteer to help out a childhood friend, and risk his life in doing so, as long as the childhood friend tells him her entire story.

This passage is also indicative of another issue I had with the book - there are numerous high drama episodes in the lives of the friends. There are so many that the book began to seem, to me, like the plot of a soap opera as opposed to a story that I could imagine is true.

The relationships in the book really stretched credibility. Given the incredibly ugly episodes among some of the characters in their teenage years, it is not plausible that as adults they were regularly socializing and calling each other "friends."

I wanted very much to like this book but just can't. If you grew up in the south and want to read something that touches on the issues all of us experienced (the social divide between the older, established families in the community, most of them with great wealth, and the more ordinary citizens; race relations as the community was forced to change due to integration and long overdue social changes; religion; and homosexuality) then you will find much in the novel you can identify with.

I wish that Nan Talese had taken a firmer hand as editor and had Conroy rework the dialogue and tone down the drama. I am uncomfortable writing such a negative review of the work of an author I have long admired. If I hadn't received the book as part of the Vine program, and felt obligated to review it, I wouldn't have.
257 internautes sur 287 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 The Big Chill--on acid 11 août 2009
Par Susan Tunis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Leopold Bloom King ("Leo" to friends) is the narrator of Pat Conroy's first novel in 14 years. The story opens on Bloomsday, 1969, in Charleston, South Carolina. Most families don't commemorate this celebration of the work of James Joyce, but then again, most parents don't name their sons after fictional Joycean characters. At the tender age of 18, painfully shy Leo has had enough drama to last a lifetime. Trouble began early with his radiant older brother's suicide. Leo found the body. This led to years of therapy and adventures within the mental health care system. Finally released from institutions, Leo is immediately convicted of a crime he didn't commit, but for which he won't defend himself. All of this has occurred before the events of the novel, and is exposited in the first 50 pages or so.

On that fateful Bloomsday, Leo is finally on the verge of getting his act together. And this kid is too good to be true. He's got no friends his own age, but Leo is genuinely kind-hearted and charms any adult willing to give him a chance. However, everything changes on that day. It's the day that larger-than-life twins Sheba and Trevor Poe move across the street. It is also the day that he meets Ike Jefferson, the son of his new African American football coach (thanks to desegregation). It is the day he meets teenage orphans Niles and Starla Whitehead, just arrived in town and handcuffed to their chairs. And, finally, it is the day he meets South of Broad bluebloods, Chad and Fraser Rutledge and the beautiful Molly Huger. It is, in short, an eventful day.

The non-linear novel is told in five parts. That first part establishes the rich Charleston setting, gives the necessary exposition, and cements the life-altering relationships of these high school friends. Part two is set 20 years later. It is 1989, and Sheba Poe has returned to Charleston as one of the biggest movie stars alive. She's a drama-queen of the highest order, but she hasn't forgotten her friends or her roots. As the group of friends reunites around Sheba's surprise visit, we see what's become of the teenagers we've just gotten to know. We learn just how incestuous the group is, and who ended up married to whom.

It was this section, more than any other, that reminded me powerfully of the film The Big Chill--right down to the South Carolina setting, the careers of some of the friends, and the many (many!) issues they are dealing with. Section three sees this close-knit group on a quest to San Francisco. One of their number, openly gay and rumored to be dying of AIDS, is missing. No one has heard from him in over a year. Part four returns us to 1969, and the friends' senior year of high school. It is here that we learn more of the events that led to the adult lives these people were leading 20 years later. And finally (and I do mean finally, as the book came in at over 500 pages), part five returns to 1989/1990 and the culmination of the all plots and dramas we've exhaustingly witnessed.

It is a truly STAGGERING list of discord. All the typical Conroy highlights are hit: daddy issues, mommy issues, male and female rape, suicide, southern living, mental illness, military education, team sports, adultery, relationships with coaches, family drama, and so much more. This sort of redundancy of themes can't help but make you wonder a bit about the author. Nonetheless, though revisiting a lot of territory, Conroy jumbles things up in new and interesting ways.

I had a mixed reaction to this book. I can (and will) criticize any number of aspects of this novel, but I can't deny that it was entertaining. It's compulsively readable, but in a trashy, guilty pleasure sort of way. I generally think better of Pat Conroy. Some of the language exhibits his renowned lyricism, but much of the dialogue is cringe-worthy. Each of the characters attempts to be more witty and glib than the next. Their dialogue is a non-stop stream of one-liners, innuendo, and casual racism. None of it rings true, and goes a long way towards making these characters, their actions, and the constant high-drama simply too much to believe. Most of the characters are extreme personalities (some of them downright repugnant), and I found it hard to believe that their bonds were as tight as was depicted. The entire San Francisco section found Conroy way out of his element, and while he convincingly narrated through the eyes of an outsider, the story he told lacked authenticity. Armisted Maupin he's not.

And I mentioned it before, but by the end of the book, the non-stop drama of these people's lives is exhausting. Family drama, relationship drama, racial drama, religious drama, deaths, suicides, crimes, affairs, addiction, mental illness, natural disasters, and not one psychopath--but two! Folks, it's a lot to take in. Mr. Conroy's stored up a lot of plot lines in the time he's been away from fiction, and apparently he decided to use them all.

I'm sure his fans will defend this novel. And it's already a best-seller, but this is far from his strongest work. Read if you're a die-hard fan, or just want a page-turner, but if you're expecting a lot more than that, I expect you'll be disappointed.
126 internautes sur 147 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Ugh...a big disappointment 24 août 2009
Par Nathan Webster - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Conroy's "Lords of Discipline" is my all-time favorite novel, with "Prince of Tides" somewhere near the top as well. I was never a big fan of "Beach Music," but only because the plot never drew me in.

This is unfortunately a disaster of a novel - not much more than the lowest kind of southern-fried melodrama. It painfully makes clear that being a novelist isn't something you can put aside for years at a time, and hope your skills return to you at the same high level. The writer of "Lords" and "Prince" is nothing but a shadow here.

I'm not going to give plot points away. But...the tragic narrator (a Conroy set-piece, but never so contrived as here) is not sympathetic or relatable. The dialogue is stilted and expository, and the characters don't behave in a realistic fashion. The conversations he wrote that seemed so real in his other books, seem completely phony in "South," written to move the plot along, not to actually bring life to the characters.

There is of course a twist at the end, and it is aw-ful. It comes completely out of the blue, for no good reason, and I'm not even sure what reaction I as the reader was supposed to have. It's not a question of "getting it," because he hits the reader with a hammer. But an author can't throw a twist like this without some effective foreshadowing, which isn't there at all.

He has touched on race relations in all his previous books, but in this one it really descends to the level of the "magic Negro," where the black characters are all saintly and perfect, only existing to help the growth of the white characters.

A main character dies in a surprising - in a bad way - fashion. Again, with no set up and no point. The author owes the reader some reason to care about the things that are happening. Surprises are fine, but not without fitting into the premise of the story.

I could go on, and unfortunately on. It's not good. It's bad. Very bad. I'm terribly disappointed, not just for this book, but for the realization that Conroy's days of being a great novelist are behind him. This "let's wait 10 years between novels" just doesn't work. There aren't too many authors who can put their talents in cold storage and just expect them to reawaken. Conroy's editors did him a grave disservice. Maybe this could have been good, but it needed a lot more work.

Anyway...Conroy has a lot of loyal fans, including me. This isn't worth the money. Sorry.
21 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Random Conroy plot generator 12 juillet 2010
Par J. Bachrach - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Warning! Plot spoilers. That is, these are spoilers if your have either: 1) Never read a Conroy novel or 2) Never heard of Conroy.

Pat Conroy should sue. Someone has generated a novel featuring all of the familiar Conroy elements and fed them into a plot generating device and come up with a novel that has everything a Conroy novel has. Except for wit. Except for snappy dialog. Except for realistic relationships and except for three dimensional characters.

Here are the basics: suicide (2), murder (2), threats of murder, madness (almost everyone to one degree or another), mental hospitals, religious disputes, beautiful women, stereotypical gay behavior, enduring friendship, racism, brotherhood, rich, poor, good parents, bad parents, crazy parents, distant parents, understanding parents, cloying descriptions of Charleston, stereotypical put downs of all that is not Charleston, and more beautiful women and the awkward men who love them.

It was all there in Beach Music, Prince of Tides and Lords of Discipline. But it was done better and more convincingly and with much better dialog.

It could have used more astute editing as well. Do mentally deranged people take "psychotic drugs?" Probably not. It is hoped that they take anti-psychotic drugs, which would seem to be more purposeful, but that's just me.

I read this book [on Kindle] so you don't have to
26 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Same old, same old 9 janvier 2010
Par Amy Coletta - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
The only reason I didn't give this book a one star rating is my longtime admiration of Pat Conroy. My loyalty felt misplaced after reading this book though. My biggest complaint is with the dialogue...nobody talks like that! All of the characters have the same voice, regardless of their upbringing and social status. They are all smartasses and when they aren't wisecracking, they're engaging in maudlin weeping. God, enough already. The lack of any redeeming female character was equally maddening. Really, every single female is either a whore, an emotionally bankrupt prude, a raving lunatic or long suffering martyr. Spare me.

"South of Broad" is almost "The Prince of Tides" retold from a different perspective. Boy/girl twins who are emotionally and physically abused, a psychopathic killer stalking a family, a mystical water dwelling mammal, an idolized older brother who meets a tragic end; Conroy really trotted out the clichés in this one. The entire book just seems lazy and the "twist" at the end is so cheap and forced, I actually threw the book aside in disgust. Thank God I borrowed this book from the library, wasting $29.95 would have been tragic.
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