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The Nickel Boys
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Bonus Tag: Black Lives Matter > [Poll Book Tally] The NIckel Boys by Colson Whitehead 4 stars

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Karin | 7257 comments Elwood Curtis, a bright, well behaved, hard working black boy in the south makes one mistake (doesn't even commit a crime) and ends up in the reformatory school Nickel Academy. This is a horrible place where brutal things are done to boys who don't toe the line perfectly (and the rules are not always clear). He tries to hold onto Martin Luther King's words--he's nearly memorized the record album his grandmother had of MLK--even as he makes friends with Turner and learns more about the school.

The writing is brilliant--this deserved to win the prizes it did--and for the writing itself, it's 5 stars, but there was one thing the Whitehead did that held it back from it being a 5 star book for me and that is (and this is a big spoiler) (view spoiler)


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5671 comments Great choice for Black Lives Matter! This is a powerful book. If any kid seemed to be safe from trouble, you'd think it would be him. It was so unfair. I kept wondering why the people in the town didn't suspect or object to what was going on in the school. I guess self-interest trumped moral values. This was a riveting book, surprisingly so. The modern story dragged a bit for me, but it had a lot of impact when it came together.


Meli (melihooker) | 3449 comments Karin wrote: "Elwood Curtis, a bright, well behaved, hard working black boy in the south makes one mistake (doesn't even commit a crime) and ends up in the reformatory school Nickel Academy. This is a horrible p..."

It's been a while since I read this, but (view spoiler)

I am sure I am not remembering a key part of the story based on your spoiler, so please refresh my memory *^_^*


message 4: by Book Concierge (last edited Aug 08, 2020 05:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6082 comments Meli wrote: "Karin wrote: "Elwood Curtis, a bright, well behaved, hard working black boy in the south makes one mistake (doesn't even commit a crime) and ends up in the reformatory school Nickel Academy. This i..."

I just finished this yesterday, and Meli, my thinking goes along with yours. The way I read it ... Turner (view spoiler) to shine a light on what really happened.


Meli (melihooker) | 3449 comments Ok, so maybe I didn't completely block something out. Like I said, read this many books ago. Still, when I see the name of this book pop up on pbt or hear people talk about it my heart soars. I loved it :)


Karin | 7257 comments Meli wrote: "Karin wrote: "Elwood Curtis, a bright, well behaved, hard working black boy in the south makes one mistake (doesn't even commit a crime) and ends up in the reformatory school Nickel Academy. This i..."

Well, there was because (view spoiler)


Meli (melihooker) | 3449 comments That's it! I was kinda starting to remember after you mentioned (view spoiler).

I have a theory about why, but it doesn't really change the fact that it is wrong.


message 8: by Karin (last edited Aug 17, 2020 06:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karin | 7257 comments Meli wrote: "That's it! I was kinda starting to remember after you mentioned [spoilers removed].

I have a theory about why, but it doesn't really change the fact that it is wrong."


Right, and he was just a child. But it still was the one thing that kept this from being a 5 star book for me. When I was a child I was one of the most loyal friends you could ask for (but also too trusting and gullible--I never once believed my mother when she warned me about some new friend, nor stopped to realize she didn't warn me about all my friends or even all my new friends.)

I'm still loyal to my friends.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6082 comments Ah, I see what you mean by the betrayal. But I didn't see it that way ... (view spoiler)


message 10: by Karin (last edited Aug 24, 2020 06:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karin | 7257 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Ah, I see what you mean by the betrayal. But I didn't see it that way ... [spoilers removed]"

Interesting take. In any event I was still unhappy with all of that. There is a reason why I tend to avoid darker novels now, and that is I just don't like them as much as I did when I was a teen.


message 11: by NancyJ (last edited Aug 24, 2020 06:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5671 comments One thing that stood out for me - it demonstrated that there were good reasons for kids to NOT tell someone in authority what was happening. I remember the slogan "See Something Say Something" in response to terrorism and other crimes. At the time I thought it was just irresponsible to stay silent. But In some communities, people could tell you 100 ways that speaking up could come back to hurt them or someone they love.


message 12: by Meli (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meli (melihooker) | 3449 comments Karin wrote: "Meli wrote: "That's it! I was kinda starting to remember after you mentioned [spoilers removed].

I have a theory about why, but it doesn't really change the fact that it is wrong."

Right, and he..."


I don't think it was because he was a child, but rather (view spoiler)


Karin | 7257 comments NancyJ wrote: "One thing that stood out for me - it demonstrated that there were good reasons for kids to NOT tell someone in authority what was happening. I remember the slogan "See Something Say Something" in r..."

I just saw this, and you are absolutely correct.


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