THE NICKLE BOYS by Colson Whitehead: A Review


This was a 2019 publication in large print I checked out from the library.  Although I have The Underground Railroad by this author on my Kindle, I have not read it yet, but after reading Nickel Boys, I intend to.

Elwood, the protagonist is an upstanding 14 year old, who is ready to start college at the beginning of the story.  He has been raised by his grandmother, Harriett (named for Harriett Tubman), and raised on recordings by Reverend Martin Luther King. Unexpectedly and unjustly, Elwood is arrested and shipped off to the Nickel (a man’s last name) Reformatory in Florida. There he is beaten and tortured and barely survives. At the reformatory, Elwood mets Turner, a streetwise, daring rebel. It is he who convinces Elwood to join in an escape.

Fast forward to Elwood as an adult, owning his own moving company, and doing everything he can to “keep a…

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