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Boys In Exile by Richard Duggin

Boys In Exile

by Richard Duggin

424 pages
Boys In Exile is the story of an adolescent boy's coming of age in an era of bullying and exclusion.

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Category: Fiction:Literary
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About the Book

--Grand Prize Winner, BookLife/Publishers Weekly 2022 Fiction Contest

BOYS IN EXILE is the story of ten pre-adolescent boys housed together for eight weeks in Timber Wolf cabin at Camp Hemlock to “make new friends and learn life-long social skills.” Physically weak and slight in stature, Elliott “Squeaker” Streett brings to camp his fear of bullies and his lack of confidence in his ability to protect himself from harm. Elliott's efforts to win the approval of the toughest boy in Wolf Cabin only results in humiliation and betrayal, until the erosion of his moral compass contributes to a tragedy for the one boy whose friendship and moral strength he had come to admire.


A haunting coming-of-age journey through the volatility of adolescence. Overflowing with intensity and subtle power, Boys In Exile is an epic coming-of-age treat that evokes the broken innocence of childhood while illuminating the push and pull of adolescence. Embedded in the backdrop of post-World War II America, it is an explosive story of inner turmoil and finding one’s place in the world. Duggin’s profound metaphors cast light on the novel’s deeper themes while stirring up nostalgia and a haunting wistfulness rich with hidden meaning and humming with tension.

Duggin is a masterful storyteller. He sets a flawless stage, and readers will be swept into his dynamic renderings and find themselves lost in reflection throughout the book. He brings his story full-circle to a powerful ending that will weigh heavily with readers and consume them long after the book is finished.
- BookLife Prize - 2022
"This book stayed with me for weeks after I read it. It really brought me into the world of pre-teen boys back in 1955, which is remarkable since I'm the furthest thing from a pre-teen white boy (lol). And that climax had me hanging on to every word. My jaw dropped and my heart was in my stomach."
- Lyn Liao Butler
Duggin draws on the messy, complicated nature of boys’ friendships in this elegiac novel. In 1955, 12-year-old Elliott Streett reluctantly arrives at a sleepaway camp for boys in New Hampshire, sent by his worry-prone mother to keep him away from polio. His cabin mates include Billy Waite, an arrogant popular kid whose approval Elliott desperately craves. For Elliott and the other campers who befriend Billy, that approval is elusive; when they talk about sex, for example, Billy patiently corrects one boy for thinking the uterus is in the stomach, then belittles another for believing that girls’ eggs regularly slip out of their bodies (“Even when he was being nice to you, Billy Waite still had to put you down”). Billy regularly bullies nerdy cabin mate Peter Stang, and Elliott risks becoming Billy’s target by secretly befriending Peter.

Most of the novel consists of such preadolescent episodes as playing with matches and pursuing girls at a neighboring camp, though it builds to a tragic conclusion involving the three main players.

Duggin executes the scenes with precision, imbuing everything from a trip to the bug-infested latrine to a snipe hunt with potent emotion. Fans of Tobias Wolff will love this.
- Publishers Weekly



About the Author
Richard Duggin Richard Duggin is a teaching mentor in the BFA and MFA in Writing programs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His published work includes four novels and a collection of short stories. His short fiction has been cited by Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Anthology, and Playboy Magazine Best Fiction.



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