Replete with at least two dozen characters, Beach Music challenges the reader to keep up with the role of each one. Jack McCall, narrator and protagonist from South Carolina, flees to Italy with daughter Leah following a custody battle with his in-laws. Devastated by the suicide of his wife, Shyla, who jumped from a South Carolina bridge, he chooses to live in Italy, a country containing only low bridges. A cookbook and travel writer, McCall attempts an escape from his past which includes an alcoholic father and a smiling liar of a mother. He never wants to think about his extended family again, or about the treachery of one particular friend which led to the supposed suicide of another. Jack considers himself a cold person, unable to love in the way he should, and he carries a guilt regarding his wife's suicide which he cannot release. His daughter Leah provides his only emotional sustenance while he lives away from home in Italy. Only Jack and Shyla knew of his best friend Jordan's existence following a faked suicide. Jack aids Jordan's escape after he executes an explosion accidentally killing two people. As the secluded life Jack has constructed for himself and his daughter unravels, Jack must face the reality of his past. Filled with hatred toward people who have contributed to his misery, he struggles to find meaning in past events which have haunted him for years. Eventually Jack returns home to South Carolina to face his past and his former best...
(The entire section is 1741 words.)
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