The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy

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Based on a true story, The Water is Wide is a wonderfully written story of Pat Conroy's fight to educate the impoverished children on an isolated island...This is a very touching novel which makes the reader appreciate life and the privileges one has.
-Teen Ink

Synopsis

Pat Conroy’s bestselling memoir recalls his dramatic experience teaching impoverished black students in South Carolina
 
Though the children of Yamacraw Island live less than two miles from the southern mainland, they can’t name the US president or the ocean that surrounds them. Most can’t read or write. Many of the students are the descendants of slaves, handicapped by poverty and isolation.
 
When Pat Conroy arrives, an eager young teacher at the height of the civil rights movement, he finds a community still bound by the bitter effects of racism, but he is determined to broaden its members’ horizons and give them a voice.
 
In this poignant memoir, which Newsweek called “Miraculous . . . An experience of joy,” the New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides plumbs his experiences as a young teacher on an isolated South Carolina island to reveal the shocking inequalities of the American education system.
 
 

About Pat Conroy

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Donald Patrick Conroy's pen name is Pat Conroy. He was born on October 26, 1945, in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from The Citadel in 1967 with B.A. in English. He later used his experiences at the strict school in his book, The Lords of Discipline (1980), which was nominated for the Robert Kennedy Book Award in 1981. After teaching high school at his alma mater, he accepted a job teaching disadvantaged black children in a two-room schoolhouse on Daufuskie Island off the South Carolina coast. Many of the children were illiterate, unable even to write their own names. He taught them using oral history and geography lessons. His experience on Daufuskie Island formed the basis for his first successful novel The Water Is Wide (1972), which won Conroy the Anisfield-Wolf Award from the Cleveland Foundation and was made into the movie Conrack starring Jon Voight in 1976. His other novels include The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, and South of Broad.
 
Published July 28, 2010 by Open Road Media. 338 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Feb 15 2015
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Water Is Wide
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Jun 19 1980

What distinguishes this account from all those others dealing with a year of teaching deprived youngsters is the high spirits, humor, and rawboned sincerity of the author, who throughout is not above a few self-deprecatory swipes at his bulldozer idealism or his compulsive determination to see likable qualities in everyone -- even his enemies.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Emily K. on Feb 20 2015

Based on a true story, The Water is Wide is a wonderfully written story of Pat Conroy's fight to educate the impoverished children on an isolated island...This is a very touching novel which makes the reader appreciate life and the privileges one has.

Read Full Review of The Water Is Wide

My Book Retreat

Good
Reviewed by Julie on Feb 09 2011

In The Water is Wide, Conroy tells the story of his year teaching on the impoverished Yamacraw Island...The story is written in a way that makes it feel like fiction, but this is actually based on his real experiences. I was appalled at the conditions in which these kids were supposed to learn.

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