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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