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The Nickel Boys
The Nickel Boys
Author: Colson Whitehead
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is a high school senior about to start classes at...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780385693981
ISBN-10: 0385693982
Publication Date: 6/30/2020
Pages: 224
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.

2.9 stars, based on 4 ratings
Publisher: Anchor Canada
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 22
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

perryfran avatar reviewed The Nickel Boys on + 1139 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I read Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Underground Railroad a couple of years ago which I thought was well worth reading as an alternative history using real events to show the plight of the African American during the pre-civil war period. THE NICKEL BOYS is a work of fiction that was inspired by true events that happened at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. I saw a TV story on CBS' Sunday Morning Show about Whitehead's writing of the book and the atrocities that occurred at the Dozier School. Based on this, I decided I definitely wanted to read this one.

Whitehead uses the background of the school for the novel. He changes the name of the school to the Nickel Academy and paints a very bleak picture of a place where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back". Out back is where problem students are beaten to death with a whip and then buried in unmarked graves. The protagonist of the novel is young African-American Elwood Curtis who is sentenced to the school because he had hitched a ride with a man in a stolen car. Even though he was only riding in the car and did not know it was stolen, he is still sentenced to a term at Nickel. Elwood soon faces the realities of the place when he tries to break up some bullying and ends up in the "White House" where he is beaten with a leather strap. He later makes friends with another youth named Turner, and they dream about the day when they will be free. Elwood wants to report the abuses going on at the school as he knows his hero, Martin Luther King, would do. But is that a wise thing to contemplate?

I really thought this was a well done novel. It includes a good plot line with some twists I didn't see coming. It is also a coming of age story where the protagonist must endure growing up in the segregated South of the 60s and be subjected to the atrocities of being incarcerated in a school that is little more than a horrific prison for young boys.
reviewed The Nickel Boys on + 70 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is my second Colson Whitehead novel. He is an excellent writer. This book tells the story of Elwood and Turner - two boys sent to the Nickel Academy after being charged with crimes. This is based on a real âschoolâ where terrible things happened especially if you happened to be a black youth. Very thought provoking. Worth the read.
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reviewed The Nickel Boys on + 11 more book reviews
This book only gets better the farther into it you read. I liked the style (so appropriate to the subject), the story (as heart-breaking as it was), the timeliness.
Louise avatar reviewed The Nickel Boys on + 13 more book reviews
I read this book for my book club and it got a very high rating of 4.8/5. I, however; wasn't as big a fan. I did some searching of the Dozier school after I read the book and was surprised to find a story very similar to Elwoods... but of a white person. Maybe I had the wrong understanding of the book but it seemed like it was the telling of a wronged black person, because he was black. But... how weird it appears to be based off something that actually happened in real life.. but to a white guy. So was the point about racial injustice or about the schools injustice (for both black and white). In the end... I wasn't a fan. I guess the finding of Jerry Coopers story ruined any positive feelings I had for the book. It just made it confusing.
joann avatar reviewed The Nickel Boys on + 388 more book reviews
Elwood Curtis is a black boy growing up with a huge admiration for Martin Luther King, Jr. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida with his grandmother, after being left behind by his parents in their fleeing to California.
He is about to start taking courses at a local college and tries to find a way to get to said college by hitchhiking. He gets into a car and is arrested, as the car was stolen by the driver, and therefore is considered as guilty as the perpetrator.
He is sent to the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says is provides "physical, intellectual, and moral training to those entering its realms. That is not the course, as Elwood soon finds out.
This is a chamber of horrors, with beatings, deaths, etc being handed out like lollipops.

This was good. The ending is astounding.
reviewed The Nickel Boys on + 328 more book reviews
Very good and readable. Story based on a similar place in Flordia. Starts at civil rights days, a reform school for kids, both black and white, but the blacks are treated very different. Follows the stories of two black kid to current day.

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Elwood (Primary Character)
Turner (Primary Character)
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