Advance Praise

Praise for Larry I. Palmer’s Scholarship Boy

“My friendship with Larry has been among the most enduring of my Exeter friendships, but—before I read his memoir of social and racial dislocation—I never knew the story that unfolded in the home Larry left when he came to Exeter. Larry’s remarkable family story gives me a deeper appreciation of someone I met as a teenager and have known all my life.” —John Irving 

“Larry Palmer was fourteen years old in September 1958 when he made the unlikely journey alone by train from St. Louis to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. It is impossible to read this boy’s story (‘ninth child of ten, and the sixth of seven sons’) without feeling the loneliness of that first passage away from home—a black boy crossing into a bastion of white privilege—and the scale of the transformation that awaited him.” —Carrie Brown, author of The Stargazer’s Sister 

“Marked by moments of profound generosity and isolation, Scholarship Boy tells the story of race, family and possibility in one boy’s life, while contemplating what’s left behind when one journeys between worlds.” —Sonja Livingston, author of Ghostbread

“A very poignant narrative, full of pathos and love, about one family’s participation in recent African American history, including segregation, school integration, and dreams fulfilled and nullified. Honest, gracefully written, and uncompromisingly vulnerable, Larry Palmer’s book is unceremoniously generous. Palmer does not grandstand: He is never simply this or that. He is, in the best sense, simply himself: A man trying to stand in a furious whirlwind.” —Kenneth A. McClane, W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Literature Emeritus, Cornell University

“A poignant exploration of family, longing, and cultural disorien­tation, seen through the eyes of an African American teenager sent to live and study at a prestigious New England prep school in the 1950s. This absorbing story reminds us that the questions of race and identity we wrestle with today are nothing new, and progress, when it comes at all, often comes at a snail’s pace.” —Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire

“An intriguing coming-of-age story told from a unique perspective . . . In writing Scholarship Boy, Palmer gave me a peek inside a world I would not have otherwise seen.” —Kristen Green, author of Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County

“On the surface, this is the story of a black boy’s adventure of finding his way in the all-white, blazers, ties, and sports world of an all-boys boarding school in the 1950s. Its heart, however, is the family this boy comes from. As the next to the youngest of ten, it was the older brothers and sisters who gave this scholarship boy the chops to navigate the treacherous waters of an alien world with aplomb and make the best of his opportunities. What an apt tribute that each of them gets to step into the limelight of this luminous coming-of-age memoir.” —Annette Gendler, author of Jumping Over Shadows and How to Write Compelling Stories from Family History

“Palmer’s forthright and tender book brings to mind William Faulkner’s assertion that all good writing grows from ‘the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself.’ During many of his formative years, the narrator straddles two worlds—the world of his large, ‘loving but chaotic’ and economically strapped family back home and the elite world that scholarships to Exeter, and later to Harvard and Yale, offer him. Deaths loom large on these pages: the deaths of his parents and of his ‘two mythical brothers’—one who died as a toddler and one who disappeared for twenty years, returning briefly only to disappear again. And though Palmer’s story expands to include the larger world of racial, economic, gender, and educational challenges facing a changing nation, it’s clear that, as the narrator comes to understand, ‘those nine siblings—and my parents—are a part of who I am. They are my story.’ And what a moving, enlightening story it is, a generous gift to us, his lucky readers.” —Rebecca McClanahan, author of The Tribal Knot and In the Key of New York City: A Memoir