It’s 1963 in Tallahassee, Florida, and Elwood Curtis has a bright future ahead of him, enrolled in advanced college courses ahead of high school graduation. Then one innocent mistake lands him in the boys’ reformatory, Nickel Academy. Based on Florida’s real Dozier School for Boys, an institution that operated for over 100 years brutalizing young boys, The Nickel Boys is a vital work of historical fiction, challenging every soul to search out the deep truths of the past, to which all of our futures are anchored. Recommended By Aubrey W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Time, Esquire, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vox, Variety, Christian Science Monitor, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Literary Hub, BuzzFeed, The New York Public Library
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE'S 10 BEST FICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE
WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL FICTION 2020
In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, 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.
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.
"Whitehead's magnetic characters exemplify stoicism and courage, and each
supremely crafted scene smolders and flares with injustice and
resistance, building to a staggering revelation....A scorching work." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Whitehead's brilliant examination of America's history of violence is a stunning novel of impeccable language and startling insight." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"A masterpiece squared, rooted in history and American mythology and, yet, painfully topical in its visions of justice and mercy erratically denied...a great American novel." Maureen Corrigan, NPR.org
"...A writer like Whitehead, who challenges the complacent assumption that we even fathom what happened in our past, has rarely seemed more essential.” The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Colson Whitehead is the number one New York Times bestselling author of nine books of fiction and non-fiction, including The Underground Railroad, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award and was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. He is also a recipient of the MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships. In 2020, he won his second Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Nickel Boys. He lives in New York City.