Award Winners · Cultural · fiction · Library Challenge · Small Book

The Nickel Boys

“because for him to do nothing was to undermine his own dignity.” 

―  Colson Whitehead

Why I’m Reading this Book?

I’m reading this book as part of my Omaha public library challenge for 2021 under the ‘Award Winning book’ category. Also, my brother Piyush Sharma has read it and recommended it as a very good book, so there is no excuse.


This is inspired by real life events and tells the horrible story of a juvenile detention (reformation) center called Nickel academy. It proclaims of physical, intellectual and moral training of its ‘Students’, but reality is vastly different than its motto. Story is about a teen, who finds himself in this place and we see through his eyes what goes on inside.

My Review…

Elwood Curtis, a black teen , who is a straight arrow, finds himself in unfortunate situation and gets send to Nickel Academy. Curtis is immensely impressed by Dr. Martin Luther King and tries to remember and cultivate his teachings in his life.

When he sees the injustice happening in the academy, he is in constant dilemma of either keeping his head down, finish his time and come out like his friend Turner suggested or raising his voice against all this just like his ideal would do. Price of rebelling is too steep. Non-violence in the face of barbarity seems ridiculous and loving your enemy on top of that feels incredulous.

We experience Curtis’ indignations and constantly find ourselves asking these same questions. Although this story details about the abuse going on, constant racism and people making money on other’s misery, it asks us poignant questions about what would we do when we find us in a difficult situation. Would we chose to be silent and endure ? Or would we do something about it? And what are the long term repercussions of our choices?

Epilogue of the story was a good twist. I wasn’t expecting that and it just jolted me into the story again and made me think for a long while.

My Rating — 3

On the scale of: (1- Hate , 2- Neither like nor dislike, 3- Like, 4- Love, 5- Gaga)

Why anyone else should read this Book?

It’s a small book and can be finished in 2-3 days.

Good are those books that make you think. If a book change your perspective slightly about anything, its a worth read. We all have heard about abuse that goes on in these centers , adult or juvenile, but it just makes an story more relatable, when you follow a person’s life from birth and see him making choices resulting in unfortunate incidents and we can find compassion in our heart. When it comes to criminals, it’s always good not to see their lives in black and white.

Thanks Piyush Sharma for recommending this , this was definitely a good read.

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” – William Styron


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