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The Nickel Boys

By: Colson Whitehead
Narrated by: JD Jackson,Colson Whitehead
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Publisher's Summary

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2020

The Nickel Boys is Colson Whitehead's follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning best seller The Underground Railroad, in which he dramatises another strand of United States history, this time through the story of two boys sentenced to a stretch in a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clear-sighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college.

But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide 'physical, intellectual and moral training' which will equip its inmates to become 'honorable and honest men'.

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear 'out back'.

Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King's ringing assertion, 'Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.' But Elwood's fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors.

The tension between Elwood's idealism and Turner's scepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions.

Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for 111 years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.

©2019 Colson Whitehead (P)2019 Hachette Audio UK

What listeners say about The Nickel Boys

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READ the book

It's a harrowing story of survival but on Audible it seems to lose its way when it shifts from the current to after boys home parts I lost the feel for the book and I stopped enjoying it. I stayed till the end anyway and still felt unsatisfied. I think its a book that needs to be read not listened too

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4 people found this helpful

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Wonderful

Wonderfully written and performed. I immediately listened to it a second time. Echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird.

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Whitehead’s best

This is my third Colson Whitehead book after Harlem Shuffle and The Underground Railway and all have been great, but The Nickel Boys is outstanding

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great twist

sad story yet highly entertaining. colson whitehead is a great author. read it a second time and you'll see it differently.

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Be patient

Even though I enjoyed this book overall, I struggled a little with the beginning. I did think it was quite clever but I didn't know quite how clever until the end!

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Worthy

I hate to give Colson Whitehead a less than perfect review since he seems such a nice guy but this book didn't take off for me in the same way "The Underground Railroad" did. It's great that this kind of story gets told and who would have thought that sixty years ago such atrocities were still taking place. But, even though it is not a long book it still seemed drawn out. Maybe I should read the book to see if the narration had an effect. I guess the deadpan delivery was supposed to heighten the sense of outrage but just made for dull listening.

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