A novel written by Pat Conroy, published in 1992, about growing up in a more than slightly disturbed southern family on the coast of South Carolina. The Prince of Tides was also made into a film starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. I found the movie quite good, but the book a hundred times more engrossing. Anyone who might have experienced a bizarre childhood in the South might find it extraordinarily touching, as I did- but I'm sure anyone with a childhood could discover it as a terrific read.

Tom Wingo, the main character, has a brother (Luke) and a sister (Savannah), each with their own disturbed psyches, and Tom attempts to unravel the dirty threads of their abuse in his talks with a psychiatrist in New York, Susan Lowenstein. Tom is somewhat forced to do this in the beginning, after his sister, a poet living in The Big Apple (a city he detests), tries to commit suicide- again.

While juggling a problematic marriage at home, Tom finds himself determined to help save his sister and at the same time grows very close to the doctor. Their childhood, as it is uncovered, proves more and more shocking as the book winds toward the close.

The Prince of Tides touched me profoundly when I was 13, and I had the chance to meet Conroy when I was 19, where all I managed to spit out was, "You really inspire me. I'm a writer, too."

Other books by Pat Conroy include:

Beach Music
The Lords of Discipline
The Great Santini
The Water is Wide
My Losing Season

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