The Water Is Wide

The Water Is Wide

Book - 2006
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Random House, Inc.
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.

Here is PAT CONROY’S extraordinary drama based on his own experience–the true story of a man who gave a year of his life to an island and the new life its people gave him.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Baker & Taylor
A teacher recounts a year on Yamacraw Island, off the South Carolina coast, when he helped black children gain an awareness of themselves as well as the world around them

Publisher: New York : Bantam, 2006
ISBN: 9780553268935
0553268937
Characteristics: 326 p ; cm

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tonyalanjeffers
Apr 15, 2019

I believe this is Pat Conroy's first book. An autobiographical true story of Pat's experience as a teacher on Tiny Yamacraw Island.
I read this book about 15 years ago while living on a island among people of another culture; so I related well to it. When I saw this book listed in recently reviewed books and found a 3 word comment I decided to add mine.
Pat had a strange start in life; having attended a private military college and finding that his eyesight was not good enough to follow in his father's footsteps and become a fighter pilot he becomes a teacher instead.
On the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assinated he was assulted by a black student lashing out at the first white person she could get her hands on. Pat was forced to run as an angry mob of black students gathered around him. When he is offered a post as teacher in a two room school house on tiny Yamacraw Island he accepts. Except for a racist white adminstrator and his wife he is the only other white person on the island. The people on Yamacraw actually have their own African derived language called Gullah; but also speak English although they find it imposible to pronounce Conroy correctly and call Pat "Conrack" which is the name of the movie based on this book.
Finding that the students can't read a word of English he abandons the state curriculam and text books and teaches them music appreciation instead which they love and make a lot of progress on.
Miraculously after a lot of effort he was able to arrange a field trip to Washington D.C. for his island bound kids.
Since for some reason I can't remember his wife could not join him on the island and he gets in trouble with the school board he finally has to leave with a very emotional farewell.
After which he writes this book launching his new career as one of America's greatest authors.
I did some research before writing this. Today Yamacraw Island is nothing like the isolated island in this book. True name Daubuskie Island it is now a major tourist attraction -thanks to this book and the movies based on it no doubt- with resorts and hotels. You can book your vaction there anytime.

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mcdoff
Apr 13, 2019

Rec'd by Arlene

Jane60201 May 26, 2014

This book, published in 1972, seems somewhat dated now. However, the emotion the author brings to it makes it still a good read.

e
erinsnest
Sep 18, 2013

I listened to this as an audiobook and I did notice all the big words, (a trademark of Conroy,) that would have daunted some. My husband is not a big reader, and would have never made it through this, but he really enjoyed listening to it. So get the audiobook, you won't be disappointed! Note: this was my introduction to Pay Conroy's work. I am hooked! Note: They made a movie of this, and it wasn't in our library system, or even in the whole system of Alberta.......but my sweet librarian ordered a copy for me! Thanks Diane!

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glasglowdroid
Aug 01, 2012

The story is good and is fun to read, but the author uses way too many words to describe even the most trivial things. This makes the book and slow read. Generally, it is still enjoyable.

Cdnbookworm May 18, 2011

This book talks about the months in 1969 and 1970 that Conroy taught at a small black school on Yamacraw Island, South Carolina.
Conroy was appalled at the lack of knowledge of the students (grade 5 to grade 8) that he was responsible for. Many could not read, or do simple math. They lacked knowledge of geography, history, and science. Conroy had taught high school before and so was not prepared with all the tools to teach younger children. He relied on his instincts and used ingenuity to find ways to engage the children, enrich their learning experience and fight for their right to a decent education. He encountered racism, apathy, and indifference. He was not always wise or prudent in his fight and it ended with him being fired and never teaching again. But it taught him a great deal.
It is an interesting memoir of a specific period with a specific situation.

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teresamaria332 Sep 23, 2013

page 289

"Survival is the most important thing. As a bona fide ass-kisser, I might lose a measure of self-respect, but I could be teaching and helping kids. As it is, I have enough self-respect to fertilize Yankee Stadium, but I am not doing a thing for anybody. I could probably still be with the Yamacraw kids had I conquered my ego."

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