The Water is Wide is a memoir published by Pat Conroy in 1972. It is based on his work as a teacher on Daufuskie Island, South
The island is poor and isolated from the mainland, having no bridges and little infrastructure. Nearly all of the islanders are directly descended from slaves and have had little contact with the mainland and its people.
Conroy writes about his struggles to communicate with the islanders, to find ways to reach his students, ages 10 to 13, who are illiterate and innumerate. They know shockingly little of the world beyond their island. Conroy finds himself doing battle with the principal over his unconventional teaching methods and with district administrators who have neglected to provide proper education for these children.
Conroy writes with humor and compassion when recreating dialogues and incidents, but never deserting the seriousness of the topic.