Now Available on Amazon "Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon a Hill"

 


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Nostalgia from: A City Set upon a Hill

Now Available on Amazon
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Rewiew For:  Nostalgia from: A City Set upon a Hill

Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer: Midwest Book Review 

Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon a Hill: A Memoir is centered around one of the oldest all-boys boarding schools in Jamaica, established in 1856 and the author's high school for seven years. But this boarding school story transcends autobiography and even school memoir to offer a nostalgia piece especially inviting to anyone who knows Jamaica or boarding schools well, and is filled with accounts of what it meant to spend seven years in the Munro College high school environment.

Color photos of the school grounds accompany the author's memories of the school's appearance, teachers, its place in the city, and its inviting environment.

From how the school's relative isolation fostered a community spirit that led to unique educational opportunities and interactions to how boys from many different backgrounds came to engage one another and learn, descriptions are especially powerful when they reveal the roots of this process: "There was no computer room or computer lab, like what exists in high schools today, but we had something much better: Bull Sessions. Who said boys don’t gossip? These bull sessions were the most interesting idle-talk sessions I ever knew. They were always fun. Amusement 101. Amusement guaranteed. Just think about what topics were up for discussion. Anything and everything that the minds of idle boys could conceive of were chatted and laughed about. One of the most interesting features of these bull sessions was that many times, the same topics were discussed repeatedly, but from different perspectives, the reason being that many times, there just weren’t enough newsbreak items up for discussion. What I admired about bull sessions was that no special invitation was required; it was impromptu in its purest form."

One might not expected footnoted references from a memoir, but Garfield Whyte's choice of this scholarly approach adds information to the discussion without interrupting its progression. The footnotes explain terminology, slang, and cultural references at the end of the book while readers are able to enjoy a dialogue that flows smoothly.

From the lifelong friendships that evolved from the school's special environment to field trips, pranks, hierarchies of culture and boarding school teachers and life, this light read comes steeped in the flavor and culture of a childhood in Jamaica and will attract a wide audience, from those interested in the island's life to readers who enjoy school days stories, this is a lively and personal examination of a special school and a special era which comes alive with Whyte's observations.

                                     

Book Viral Review

Wistful and sentimental Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon a Hill is the memoir from Author and Poet Garfield Whyte. Childhood memoirs tend to be told by unreliable narrators as memories can often be partial and selective but Garfield achieves a favourable balance between hindsight and the immediacy of conveying just what it is like to be a teenager. There’s no doubt that Munro College was unique in its time and setting but it takes an acerbic mind to bring it qualities to life in a way that disparate readers can relate to it. Garfield does this through eloquent prose, but more importantly acute observation that conveys the curiosity of youth. In this way his setting becomes almost marginalized and secondary to the impact it has had on his career, aspirations and more tellingly the creative energy that has fuelled his desire to write. There might not be any Eureka moments, but in the normalcy of Whyte’s surroundings there was a future being written and you can’t help concluding that the path Whyte is now walking is the one he’s meant to be on.

Candid in its telling and an intriguing view of an all boys Jamaican boarding school Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon a Hill proves something of a gem and is highly recommended.

 

San Francis Book Review

In this sentimental memoir, Garfield Whyte takes readers down a wistful, thoughtful, and saccharine journey down memory lane in his book “Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon A Hill.” Set in the backdrops of Munro College, an all-boys boarding school in Jamaica, Whyte paints a literary tale of flashbacks of his fondest memory of his schooling and the significance and impact that this school bestowed upon. From the sights and sounds of the school, to the classrooms, the teachers and students, and the bricks that laid the foundation of this institution, Whyte explains why Munro, in all its simplicity during that time, was the city set upon a hill. “There were other boarding schools in Jamaica, but none like this one. The others were duplications, as, in my view, this one was the real, authentic all boys’ high school.” In this compound, Whyte retells of how their lives revolved around this institution. The outside world practically didn’t exist to them, because everything that they could want and needed was provided for. It was truly a city built upon a hill. It was a school that young boys aim to attend and parents hoped their child would be lucky enough to attend. You were considered lucky and fortunate to get accepted.  As we read further into his memoir, we learn of his appreciation of the simple things like eating and water. The school taught him and other students to be thankful for the basic needs and in such it taught him discipline that could be used in his future life.

“Munro College was recognized as the only high school, and there was to be a one-way street that led up to that winding hillside to the city set upon a hill. After the Common Entrance Examination, my seven-year pilgrimage began.” Each opening chapter in this memoir begins with a quote from a famous person whose quote leads into each topic Whyte introduces. This memoir is his account of his life and recollection of his memories of the students and the people that he encountered while he was a student of Munro. Through this detailed account, Whyte allows us to FEEL Munro College and why, once you are a Munronian, you are a Munronian for life. While this memoir is of his personal account, I enjoyed this personal and sentimental journey of Garfield Whyte. So if you are ready to immerse and feel of what is like to be a Munronian, then this deep, wistful recollection of memories will allow you to taste, see, and feel Munro, the city on the hill.  

 

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Nostalgia From a City Set Upon a Hill is a non-fiction memoir written by Garfield Whyte. The author knew that he had to do well enough in the Common Entrance Examinations to be accepted into Munro College, a prestigious boarding high school. His mother had made it clear for some time that she would not pay for him to attend any other high school. Munro was the only one she considered, and she had good cause for her conviction. Many Munro graduates, who came from a variety of backgrounds and economic situations, became diplomats, academics, high-ranking government officials, Fulbright Scholars and professionals, and Munro is highly regarded for its academic excellence. Located in a remote part of Jamaica on a peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the college comprised some 150 acres of pristine land overlooking the Caribbean and commanding vast panoramas. Many of the buildings are of historic importance. It was an awesome place for the author to study and live in, and the Munro College experience continues to influence his life to this day.

Garfield Whyte's non-fiction memoir brings to life the author's seven years spent in an elite boarding school. If you've even wondered, as I have, what boarding school might have been like, this memoir is as close to living that experience as you are likely to get. Whyte includes marvelous pictures of Munro College's buildings, panoramas and the infamous Barbecue, a stretch of cracked concrete that was the focal point of student life. I loved hearing his stories about his interactions with other students and the pranks they played, and his humorous looks at some of the teachers he had during his time there are brilliant. I marveled at the thought that the college was so isolated in the rural countryside and that the students there had none of the social outlets that most take for granted today. In a way, I envied the closeness and camaraderie that could not help but become engrained in him and his fellow students as they spent their free time having bull sessions and playing padda. Nostalgia From a City Set Upon a Hill is well-written, and the reader can't help but feel a connection with this author as he shares the stories of his youthful experiences at a most remarkable academic institution. It's highly recommended.