Beach Music by Pat Conroy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Beach Music is the first Conroy novel I have read, and I did enjoy it. Conroy is definitely a good storyteller, but I felt this book was a little bit all over the place at times. While I definitely liked the book as a whole, I do have some criticism.
1. Leah's age was a point of confusion for me throughout the book. The timeline indicates she would be about 7 years old. Shyla apparently killed herself before Leah was 2 years old, and Leah and Jack were in Rome for 5 years. I don't know how much time passed during the trial with Shyla's parents. I feel Leah is portrayed as much older than a 7 year old. She behaves as if she is at least 11 or 12, going on 21.
2. In the epilogue, Jack makes the comment that he cried every time he read Shyla's letter. But throughout the book, he continuously talks about how the "tears never came" after Shyla's death. This was a major inconsistency.
3. Shyla references something in her father's past in her letter to Jack, though she supposedly never knew the story of her father's past. I forget the exact comment she made, but it referenced some of the things her father had to do to survive during the war.
Despite this, I was impressed with Conroy's ability to introduce a character in one way, then change your entire perspective of that character when he told their back-story. I felt particularly this way about Father Jordan. It did not seem as though the priest in Rome could be the same boy that showed up in Waterford 20 years prior. It gave a whole new dimension to his character, and that was very impressive.
Overall, an enjoyable read, even with the difficult topics it covered (i.e. suicide, abuse, the Holocaust and the Vietnam war).
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