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Clouds Float South


Not for me 😔

A gentle, meandering story about family love and loyalty. The writing is beautiful but the pace is slow.

Alan Smith is the youngest son of the Smith family. He narrates ten stories about what it’s like to grow up in a large family during the 1950s and 1960s and how the glue of family love and loyalty is the “cement” that holds five lives together during turbulence, turmoil, and triumph.

We first meet Alan Smith in 1954 Tennessee, when Alan is a seven year-old boy trying to come to grips with the sudden death of his father. Later chapters chronicle Alan’s junior high years and his subsequent decision to attend college at Middle Tennessee State University.

Along the way we meet a wide variety of contexts and characters, including a stubborn bus driver, a football coach with “issues,” the Vietnam war and the draft, roofers, and an Auschwitz survivor.

Readers see Alan mature as experiences, events, and different personalities shape his perspective and choices. The point of view shifts gears swiftly and expertly as the years unfold and Alan matures.

He winds up going into teaching and moves to Georgia. As a high school English teacher, Alan becomes a student of students and comes face to face with racial issues. Disillusioned and frustrated from his classroom experience, Alan returns to Tennessee with plans to earn a master’s degree in English.

The story charts the ups and downs and peaks and valleys of not only the main character’s growing up years and beyond, it also offers a bird’s eye view of various cultural and social events and other issues. It shows how the roles of children and parents eventually shift and reverse with the inexorable passage of time and how family is the glue that holds everything together, flaws and all, to create a “harmony of life.”

This book has its moments and the writing is often beautiful and vibrant. However, the rambling narrative feels overlong and clunky at times. For example, football fans will enjoy a sizable chunk of pages devoted to the game. But it goes on and on and runs out of gas fast. Some readers will enjoy the gentle, meandering style. Others may lose interest and reach for the nearest bottle of No Doze

Reviewed by

Lifelong bibliophile. Library Board Member. Select book reviews featured on my blog, Goodreads, and Amazon. I'm a frank but fair reviewer, averaging 400+ books/year in a Wide Variety of genres on multiple platforms. Over 950 published reviews.

The Sassafras Tree

About the author

Paul A Broome was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. He taught English at Alcorn State University, a Historically Black University, in Mississippi. He is now working as a full-time husband, writer, and keeper of pets in Alabama. view profile

Published on December 03, 2021

70000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Short Story

Reviewed by