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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

The Nickel Boys

The Nickel Boys is a painful but elegantly told story about the horrific abuses of the

African American wing of a reform school in 1960s Florida, misleadingly called The Nickel Academy. Basing his story on true events at an actual institution, author Colson Whitehead paints a bleak picture of brutality in confinement (thankfully without resorting to too many graphic details).

Elwood Curtis is an optimistic, studious, college-bound student who is inspired by the works and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King. When he hitches a ride from a man driving a stolen car, Elwood's life is shattered, and he finds himself in the lion's den of Nickel Academy. Though relentlessly trying to stay out of trouble and maintain good behavior, Elwood is brutally beaten and is finally convinced by his fellow inmate friend Turner that they would need to escape in order to save his life.

I loved the author’s writing style and poignant descriptions of life beyond belief. It’s no wonder that this gifted author won his 2nd Pulitzer with this masterpiece.

“The boys could have been many things had they not been ruined by that place. Doctors who cured diseases or perform brain surgery, inventing shit that saves lives. Run for president. All those lost geniuses - sure not all of them were geniuses, Chickie Pete for example was not solving special relativity - but they had been denied even the simple pleasure of being ordinary. Hobbled and handicapped before the race even began, never figuring out how to be normal.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 on Goodreads! Hardcover 224 pages, audiobook 6hrs 46 mins


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