The Nickel Boys: A Novel

The Nickel Boys: A Novel

by Colson Whitehead (Author)

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In this Pulitzer Prize-winning follow-up to The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys unjustly sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers and “should further cement Whitehead as one of his generation's best (Entertainment Weekly). Look for Colson Whitehead’s bestselling new novel, Harlem Shuffle!

In the heart-wrenching novel "The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead, we are transported to the Nickel Academy, a notorious reform school in the Jim Crow South. Whitehead masterfully weaves a narrative that delves into the dark history of racial injustice and exposes the horrifying realities of institutionalized abuse.

The story centers around Elwood Curtis, a young black boy from Florida who finds himself enmeshed in a life of crime due to a desperate need to protect his family. After fighting off an assailant, Elwood is wrongly accused of a crime and sent to Nickel. He soon discovers that the Academy is a place of unimaginable cruelty, where the boys are subjected to relentless physical and psychological torture by the administration and guards.

Elwood forms an unlikely friendship with Turner, a fellow inmate who shares similar experiences of injustice. Together, they navigate the harrowing conditions of Nickel, seeking solace in each other's company and dreaming of freedom. As the story unfolds, Whitehead exposes the insidious nature of systemic racism, highlighting the devastating consequences it has on the lives of marginalized communities.

"The Nickel Boys" is a powerful and disturbing novel that sheds light on a shameful chapter in American history. Whitehead's evocative prose and meticulous research bring the characters and their struggles to life, creating a deeply moving and unforgettable story. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a call to action against the injustices that continue to plague our society.