Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pages: 224 pages
Published: July 2019 

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead is a historical fiction novel based on the real-life Dozier School for Boys, a reform school in Florida. The book is set during the Jim Crow era. In reality, we know that the Dozier School committed horrible atrocities against young boys, many of whom's bodies weren't found until a few years ago. However, much of the news coverage has focused on the Caucasian students. In this fictional account, Whitehead dramatizes what might have happened to the African American boys who were sent to the, now infamous, school.

As you might suspect, some of the depictions are difficult to read and visualize. It's shocking, yet believable, that things described in this book could have happened - and a lot of them probably did. Similar to the author's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Underground Railroad, the book is beautifully written. It paints a vivid picture with its biting prose. Having said that, I don't know if it is because of the subject matter or the overall length of the book, I just couldn't get into this one like I did his previous book. It didn't resonate with me, and it was sometimes hard to follow. I anticipated the plot twist revealed near the end, but I was left largely unsatisfied upon completion. I think this is a story that should be told, and I think Whitehead is a masterful storyteller. This one just did not do it for me.

Recommendation The book is getting rave reviews among many readers and critics. Because I enjoyed The Underground Railroad, I'd like to say that maybe this book just did not find me at the right time. Read at your own risk.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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