CBR11 Bingo Listicle- I’ve seen this on several best seller lists in addition to Pres. Obama’s summer reading list.
This was a really brutal book. The author has written a fictional account of a reform school for boys, but based it on a real school that closed only a few years ago. It was discovered after the schools’ closure that there were a number of bodies buried on the school grounds that had not been accounted for. The men in charge of the school had buried several of the students there but told the boys’ families that they had run away.
The Nickel Boys is the account of Elwood and Turner, two boys who are sent to Nickel Academy by the court. Elwood had been a model student and his grandmother’s pride before his life changed. He was on his way to his first day of college classes (though still in high school) when he accepted a ride from a stranger. That stranger turned out to have stolen a car, and Elwood was sent to Nickel as an accomplice. Elwood had spent hours listening to recordings of speeches given by Martin Luther King, Jr and had a very clear sense of what his future held- joining protests for equal rights and getting a solid education. When he arrives at Nickel he finds that very few of the boys can read, let alone have an interest in learning, and the school has no intention of changing that. He also finds his sense of right and wrong immediately tested when he is mercilessly beaten by the school leadership for trying to help a younger boy who is being attacked. During his stay he befriends Turner, who is on his second stay at Nickel and has a much more fluid sense of right and wrong.
The story alternates between present day (sociologists uncovering remains at the Nickel Academy grounds) and the past. We see Elwood and Turner both during their time at Nickel and in subsequent years.
The entire book is heart-breaking; the reveal at the end lands a bigger punch than anything that came before it.
I will definitely be looking for more books by this author.