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 low profile” and stay unnoticed. The adult Elwood is keeping a secret he has kept all his adult life, and when it is revealed at the end of the novel, it is guaranteed to blow the reader’s mind.


Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 plus years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

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