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The Water is Wide Paperback – 1 Feb 1996


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Paperback, 1 Feb 1996
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New edition edition (1 Feb. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055299684X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552996846
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 1.9 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 866,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Jun. 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pat Conroy's "The Water is Wide" is an early work of his that talks about his teaching career on a Carolina sea island with gullah children of very little education. Teachers will find this inspiring. I loved how he told the status-quo maintaining administration to go to hell! As always, Conroy's prose and understatement is terrific.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Jun. 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is especially appropriate for teachers, educators, and students who aspire to make a difference in the world through teaching. This book revolves around themes of social change, specifically the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement where attitudes of the heart lagged behind newly instituted laws. This book is about a young, idealistic, teacher who comes of age in a harsh, prejudiced environment. He fights for justice and change in a culture that does not want to change, that fears change.

The tiny, lush island of Yamacraw lies twenty miles off the coast of South Carolina. Populated by black people who depend on the sea and their farms for their livelihoods, the island has practically been forgotten by the mainland. The white powers that govern the island neglect the needs of the Yamacraw people and thus perpetuate the poverty, drunkenness, illiteracy, and hopelessness that consume the islanders. It is this environment and situation in which Pat Conroy enters in 1969. He becomes appalled at the lack of education the children have received from the inefficient and uncaring educational system. He exposes his lovable class to the world they are cut off from and thus becomes the bridge that brings ideas to their young minds-- minds that have no idea what state or country they live in. Everyday, Conroy crosses the treacherous waters between the island and the mainland to bring his kids hope and the education they rightfully deserve. However, it is not nature he must overcome to educate these kids, but the monstrous forces of prejudice, inefficient educational bureaucracy, and institutional racism.

This is the kind of novel that gets you fired up about the ills and wrongs of society and makes you want to change the world. It is definitely a must read for aspiring educators and teachers. I loved this book. Conroy tells his story poignantly and insightfully. Plus, the children are a hoot!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Following his acclaimed "The Great Santini" and "The Prince Of Tides" we have come to expect not only radiant prose but honesty and intriguing story telling from Pat Conroy. There is no disappointment whatsoever in his THE WATER IS WIDE, a memoir of the time he spent on a small South Carolina island attempting to teach the poorest of the poor who could neither read nor write. Making the task even more difficult was the fact that they spoke what is called Gullah, a type of Creole developed by the African American people living there.

On Yamacraw (a fictional name for the island where Conroy stayed) the living is credibly stark, tantamount perhaps to a third world country. The children have nothing - of course, no television, radio or anything. One might think of them as growing up in a cultural void. Yet they're hungry to learn, even almost hypnotized by Beethoven's Fifth symphony.

Upon arriving on the island Conroy is met by the school teacher, Mrs. Brown, a martinet if there ever was one. Her teaching methods consist primarily of striking the children or delivering verbal insults. Obviously, her methods have not been successful, so Conroy tries a much different, more relaxed approach - chairs in a circle, walks together. Eventually, his methods win over not only the children but the island's residents as well. However, Mrs. Brown and school officials remains opposed to him.

Although in truth the island is much changed today THE WATER IS WIDE remains a heartwarming true story of what patience and understanding can accomplish. It is a poignant yet joyful look at our past.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 April 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My first novel by Pat Conroy. I was really intrigued by this piece of work and I'm not sure exactly why. I guess in thinking back that perhaps that it was simply a well-written novel. Conroy has a fine way with words and a real feel for the plight of people. As a teacher, I had a tough time visualizing the situation on the island, but I had no trouble understanding the politics. I enjoyed this book, talked it up and now I am moving on to PRINCE OF TIDES.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joachine G. Davidson Milo on 6 Aug. 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
After having read the Beach Song, I have to read all Conroy's books and started with this one. Excellent book, well written. I laughed aloud, cried and got angry.Must get on with all the others now.
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