The Nickel Boys

The Nickel Boys

Winner of the 2020 Pulizer Prize for Fiction.

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 a local college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors. Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision with repercussions that will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.

The book is based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children.

Title:The Nickel Boys
Edition Language:English
ISBN:null
Format Type:

    The Nickel Boys Reviews

  • Nilufer Ozmekik

    Five blood freezing, rage boiler, pump squeezer, creator of several lumps on your throat, tear jerker, wake up call for all the injustice, unacceptable, unfair wrongdoings of the system stars! As soon...

  • Roxane

    I loved this novel. It is rich with detail, the plot twists in a really interesting way, the novel's structure is pretty brilliant and overall, this is an ambitious book that was really well executed....

  • Paromjit

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize!Colson Whitehead confirms his position as a phenomenal writer with this ostensibly heartbreaking and harrowing fictional storytelling, but which is informed by the darkest...

  • Kat

    with a tightly plotted and masterfully crafted story, this book absolutely demands to be read. i can only say that i think it would have benefitted from a less nonfiction-esque writing style at times,...

  • Robin

    The Nickel Boys, a book about the horrors of a fictional reformatory school in 1960s Southern USA, was my first experience reading Colson Whitehead. I was excited to read this literary powerhouse, aut...

  • Elyse  Walters

    Quick update:Meeting Colson Whitehead last night was great. He was so hilarious!!! I don’t think one person in the room expected him to be as funny as he was. A gorgeous man - funnier than any of us...

  • chai ?

    The thought of this book stirs up a pain so sharp it almost seems my flesh lay open.There is so much I can’t figure out how to say in words right now. My heart feels as raw as a burn; a feeling made...

  • Cindy Pham

    4.5 stars for a great book and sad times all around. Appreciate the way the main characters question Dr. King’s notion of still loving those who are cruel to you. Elwood’s precociousness and Turne...

  • Beata

    Before starting this novel, I had read several interviews with Colson Whitehead, and reading them added to my understanding of THE NICKEL BOYS. Mr Whitehead chose to write about a piece of history whi...

  • Brandice

    True to form, Colson Whitehead delivers another well-written, deep story that while incredibly devastating, deserves to be told. The Nickel Boys is fictional account based on the true, horrifying Dozi...