Reviews

The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead

robinreading's review against another edition

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4.0

After finishing this novel, I wanted to go back and read it again immediately. It’s genius in its construction and the management of time, and the high notes ripple and chime through the prose. The tension is masterful, the characters are touching, and the language was mesmerizing at times.

I also had a hard time reading it at times, sometimes because I was avoiding the violence and other times because I wasn’t compelled. It left me a little nostalgic for “The Underground Railroad” at times. I think “The Nickel Boys” will stick with me for a while, ripen, and deserve that re-read before too long.

kat_novak's review against another edition

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dark emotional reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

a_calame's review against another edition

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dark reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

lolbrarian's review against another edition

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5.0

The Nickel Boys was moving and I recommend it to my co-workers and students. Colson Whitehead knows how to tell a story and this is one that needs to be told; based on a true story of a school in Florida, The Nickel Boys describes life and death at a reform school where the residents are segregated, the adults in charge are careless and horrible people who failed everyone, but most especially the boys of color. The system was broken and the kids knew it. They took advantage of it when they could, but mostly they suffered at the hands of the people who were supposed to protect them. This tragic fictionalized account will break your heart, stir you to action, make you hate those who perpetrated crimes against the defenseless, and wonder how children could have been treated like this still in the 21st century.

You must read this book!

chart24's review against another edition

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5.0

Certainly not uplifting, but definitely worth reading. Whitehead is able to invoke a powerful feeling of frustration that leaves you wanting more and craving justice for these both these fictional characters and those the story is based on.

graff_fuller's review against another edition

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4.0

This is a VERY hard story to read. To know that there are people capable to do such violence on others is withering. I wish that this was JUST fiction, but know with open eyes...this is a world that others live in for real.

I hope many others read this and are spurred on to make a difference in this world. We all can do better. #BlackLivesMatter.

Thanks to Jenn from @geekritiquer on Twitter and Instagram for this great recommendation. Please go to her YouTube channel, too.
https://youtu.be/h5e11lIP_f8

amyr's review against another edition

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5.0

Based on the true and very disturbing story of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna FL, The Nickel Boys tells the story of a young man facing a brutal stay at the reform school after an unfortunate hitch-hiking incident. When I first added this book to my TBR list, I was not aware of its storyline or connection to Dozier. This particular school is a hot topic in Forensic Anthropology largely due to the dozens of unmarked and unidentified human remains that have been found so far among the grounds in recent years. PBS has actually done a great documentary on the reform school and the forensic work being done there at this time. The author did a fantastic job constructing a fictional tale that is both historically accurate and engaging. With themes of identity, racism and overall lack of humanity doled our at these reform schools, the reader can’t help but re-evaluate everything you thought you knew about US history and maybe even come to terms that these themes are still very much alive today. Dozier was open until 06/30/11 so that can give the reader some perspective that this story is still reflective of current events.

judythedreamer's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional informative reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.75

noahelijah's review against another edition

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5.0

WOW. That was… incredible. Like… I don’t even have words? It’s so so so good and emotional and heartbreaking and great. Fuck very Hard read! But read it!

thebarandthebookcase's review against another edition

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4.0

Based on a real reform school that existed until 2011, Whitehead’s novel follows two boys as they navigate the hell that is The Nickel Academy, a segregated reform school in Florida.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, as I think this is a book that is best approached without knowing much. After you close the book, you’ll immediately hit Google, trust me. This is a gut-punch of a story that I found extremely difficult to get through at times. However, Whitehead is a master storyteller, and even through the horrors of the novel his writing and characterization keeps you invested as you root for Elwood and Turner. There were a few points in the narrative that dragged just a bit, but the novel quickly rebounded each time, and at the end I appreciated the necessity of each scene. Above all, the ending will leave you SHOOK. Overall, this is a smart, important novel that should be required reading for all.