The Nickel Boys

The Nickel BoysRead The Nickel Boys By Colson Whitehead Colson Whitehead Brilliantly Dramatizes Another Strand Of American History Through The Story Of Two Boys Sentenced To A Hellish Reform School In Jim Crow Era Florida.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 About To Enroll In The Local Black College But For A Black Boy In The Jim Crow South In 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, 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 Stunned To Find Himself In Such A Vicious Environment, Elwood Tries To Hold On To 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 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 Whose Repercussions 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.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, The Nickel Boys Is A Devastating, Driven Narrative. 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 It is a coming of age story where that coming of age is warped by the atrocities of a school for boys in segregated Florida As Elwood awakens to the civil rights movement, he is stripped of nearly all his rights The he understands the freedom he deserves, the less freedom he has and that juxtaposition drives this remarkable novel At times, there were bits of prose that felt a bit, half hearted, like filler until he got to the part he was interested in I would have given this five stars but Whitehead uses cement instead of concrete at least 7 times I stopped counting after 7 times because it was too upsetting Cement, water, and aggregates make concrete Cement and concrete are not synonyms Why do copyeditors not catch this WHY Anyway, great novel People ar
Colson Whitehead confirms his position as a phenomenal writer with this ostensibly heartbreaking and harrowing fictional storytelling, but which is informed by the darkest, most shameful, and ugliest period of American history explored through the lives of two young boys, set in the early 1960s Civil Rights time and all the horrors of the Jim Crow era in Frenchtown, segregated Tallahassee, Florida Whitehead writes in understated and subtly nuanced prose, all the effective in delivering its relentless and emotionally hard hitting punches that live on in the memory long after the reader has finished reading the book Elwood Curtis is a bright and hardworking boy who lives with his beloved and strict grandmother who keeps him on the straight and narrow He is caught by the fire and ideals of Martin Luther King s spiritual rhetoric and philosophy, and the fight for emancipation, believing in the equality of everyone.Excited by the thought of attending a local black college, the innocent Elwood s life is to fall apart when he is sent to the evil hellhole that is The Nickel Academy, a segregated juvenile reform school run by the unbearably cruel and sadistic Maynard Spencer Elwood is to find himself in a racist place that has no interest in educating or improving the lives of the young men and where everyday life reeks of despair, misery and never ending horrors Vicious brutality, sexual abuse, torture, repression, corrupt
The Florida Dozier School for Boys opened in 1900 and didn t close until 2011 In this novel, it is renamed the Nickel Academy and the story is partially based upon true events that took place during the early 1960 s Some of the boys, both black and white, had committed crimes while others didn t have families or were runaways The school didn t provide an academic education or help of any kind Instead, these young boys ages 18 21 were subjected to brutal beatings, sexual abuse, and unimaginable torture which led many to their deaths Elwood winds up at the school by making an innocent decision with unforeseeable consequences Being a southern town in the deep south during the 1960 s, the court s decision was racist Once incarcerated, Elwood finds friendship with fellow captive in the cynical Turner The novel follows these boys as they try to survive the hellish prison It is harrowing to know the abuses at this school continued into the 2
It was quite a sight, all the boys, big and small, hustling in unified purpose, paint on their chins, the chucks wobbling as they ferried the cans of Dixie As part of their community service, The Nickel Boys paint buildings Dixie White, while avoiding sadistic and potentially fatal beatings delivered via a leather strap named Black Beauty The boys, cheaper than a dime a dance and you got for your money, or so they used to say, are in segregated juvenile detention in Jim Crow Florida for crimes of malingering, mopery, and incorrigibility, just as the generations before them had served time for vagrancy, changing employers without permission, and bumptious contact, i.e bumping into a white person or failing to step off the sidewalk to let a white person pass The goal at Nickel Academy is to earn points and status rankings However, the rulebook for points and status rankings has never been seen, because like justice, it existed in theory Achieving status would mean the interred might get discharged from the Academy, fully reforme
In Colson Whitehead s latest historical masterpiece, a horrific, real life reform school for boys in Florida is fictionalized as The Nickel Academy, a century old institution where teenage boys, black and white, are sent for the slightest crimes truancy, petty theft, disrespecting a white person, or even the crime of being abandoned by their parents Extreme abuse, rape, racism, and brutal murder are ruling principles, and the only way to escape is to run away or suffer death at the hands of the sadistic school administrators The story is narrated by Elwood Curtis, an ambitious young black man who idolizes Dr King, looking to his great words as a guide for his own way of existing in the world He is on his way to college when he finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time and has his path to success derailed when he lands in the snake pit that is Nickel Academy, a place which breaks down all of the ideals he held so dear, leaving him to face the ugliness of the world and its random system of undeserved violence and punishment He becomes close with another resident named Turner, who tr
The Nickel Boys is what happens when The Shawshank Redemption meets When They See Us meets Colson Whitehead s faultless instincts as a novelist Some books are 5 stars because they strike a chord with your own specific reading tastes some are 5 stars because they are so good everybody should read them This book is firmly in the latter category The Nickel Boys is about a reformatory school for boys basically a prison during the Jim Crow years, based on a real life institution and the horrendous abuses that took place there Whitehead treats this material with care it is a finely calibrated balancing act that conveys the truth of what occurred in such places, without resorting to shock value or stepping over the line into gratuitous detail This is a novel that achieves its emotional resonance not through brutality, but by making the reader fall in love with its characters.We follow Elwood Curtis, a sweet kid, diligent, bright, aspiring to a college education His misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time wrong for an African American boy in 1960s Florida, wrongness being relative lands him at The Nickel Academy There Elwood befriends the streetwise
The Nickel Boys draws its inspiration from incidents of abuse at the real life Dozier School for Boys, a now closed reformatory school in Florida that operated for than a century Though the facility opened with apparently good intentions to bring a enlightened approach to the treatment of troubled and orphaned youngsters, it devolved into an underworld of torture, rape and murder Just last month, Florida officials announced plans to search the campus for bodies hidden in unmarked graves.Whitehead s novel opens with a similar announcement about a state investigation into crimes once committed at a shuttered reformatory school called Nickel Academy Archaeology students surveying the old campus have discovered an unmarked grave that had been neatly erased from history The exhumed bodies exhibit cratered skull
This is the eighth book by Whitehead that I ve read and by now I know what to expect from his fiction It will be full of perfect sentences that never feel like they re showing off It will break my heart at least three times in ways that are expected and surprising as a sucker punch It is best not to come in with any particular expectations, he is the master of any genre he pleases and sometimes a book is not the genre you think it is.THE NICKEL BOYS is in many ways his most traditional novel It is a piece of historical fiction about a reformatory school for boys aka juvenile detention center in Florida in the 1960 s, what happened there, and how it changed every boy who set foot inside it It is, above all, bearing witness to this kind of pain not just in this one place but of all the places where this pain happens without ever being revealed It is based on a real school and a real scandal that came to light decades later, too late to save anyone This time there is no surrealist vehicle for escape, no monsters come to life, the closest things you get to fantasy are the men capable of violence aga
The world had whispered its rules to him for his whole life and he refused to listen, hearing instead a higher order The world continued to instruct Do not love for they will disappear, do not trust for you will be betrayed, do not stand up for you will be swatted down Still he heard those higher imperatives Love and that love will be returned, trust in the righteous path and it will lead you to deliverance, fight and things will change He never listened, never saw what was plainly in front of him, and now he had been plucked from the world altogether The only voices were those of the boys below, the shouts and laughter and fearful cries, as if he floated in a bitter heaven Colson Whitehead, The Nickel BoysColson Whitehead has asserted himself as one of the preeminent English language literary figures of our times Emerging as a talent with his wonderfully inventive debut, The Intuitionist, he followed his first novel with a string of critical successful books, both fiction and non It was the 2016 release of The Underground Railroad, a magical realist reimagining of the slave escape passage, that garnered him near ubiquitous acclaim Chosen as an Oprah book and winning the National Book A
The setting of Colson Whitehead s latest novel is mid 60s Florida, and the state is still amidst the Jim Crow era Elwood, raised by his grandmother in Frenchtown, works in a tobacconists and is scouted for attendance at free classes in the local college Elwood has become inspired by Martin Luther King s speeches through a recording of MLK s work that his grandmother bought, but becomes embroiled in a crime which sets his life off on a different trajectory and finds him committed to The Nickel Academy, a fictionalised version of the real life Florida School for Boys, a reform school which operated from 1900 2011 in Marianna, Florida, which has recently been in the press as a result of the atrocities that were committed against the boys there over the 111 years it was in operation maybe don t Google this until you re done reading the book.Wh