A review by cjc
The Nickel Boys , by Colson Whitehead

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


I really enjoy the themes conveyed in The Nickel Boys, but ultimately I believe it fell flat. I consistently was engaged with the characters and their stories; my heart wept at the injustices and smiled at the triumphs. The reoccurring Dr. Martin Luther King speeches were amazing and conveyed a wide breadth of relevant emotion. But I didn’t really enjoy the book holistically. To me, it seemed like a jumble of ideas, concepts, and injustices - all valid, but arranged in such a manner that simply wasn’t poignant. I don’t want to downplay the tragedies faced by boys in similar situations, however long ago, but it remains that this particle novel fell flat. Whitehead had a unique prose that is both descriptive and focused which I enjoyed, but the culmination of the varied ideas didn't amaze me in the end. While the plot did captivate me, I wish I read a different book broaching the same themes.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings