The Nickel Boys

“The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead will make your blood boil and chill you to your core. The devastating story is based on a real reform school in Florida that operated for over 100 years and brutalized the lives of thousands of kids.

“The Nickel Boys” shows us how the life of a black person in the Jim Crow-era South could go from promising to devastating just because of an honest misunderstanding. Elwood Curtis is a smart young boy passionate about the Civil Rights Movement and about to start taking college level classes. But hitchhiking in the wrong car gets him sentenced to The Nickel Academy, a juvenile reform school. What unfolds is a grotesque view into the harsh realities of the segregated school with its sadistic staff and the horrifying brutalities experienced daily by the boys.

Whitehead’s precise and direct language packs a huge punch into this quick read. The real power of this book is in Whitehead’s ability to not only tell an impactful and important story but to succinctly depict the lasting trauma of racism in the US. “The Nickel Boys” is required reading and proves that the most horrific stories are based on true events.


  • Title: The Nickel Boys
  • Author: Colson Whitehead
  • Published: July 16, 2019 (Doubleday)
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Booky Nooky Rating: * * * * *

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