I’ve had Colson’s Underground Railroad on my tbr for more than two years so when I found this book in my mail box, I started it immediately but had I known how much it would tire me, I would’ve waited a few days at-least. (Not that that would change the experience)
#theguywiththebookreview presents The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead sent to me by Little Brown (Thank you!)
Based and inspired by the history of Arthur G. Dozier School for reform of Boys (I recommend you read about it if you don’t know it’s history) The Nickel Boys was one of the best starts of any book I’ve read in recent times. Intrigued and almost invested in the story of Elwood Curtis, a black kid who dreamed of college education and a better future in a time when America was as divided as it has ever been, I had to stop and reflect at the injustice faced by so many in America’s history.
How a kid with so much promise ends up in a correctional facility which is infamous for abuse and violence against the kids, for no fault of his own, is worth more than what The Nickel Boys gave.
Filled with characters that have nothing to do with the plot and in no way move the book forward, it felt like Colson had included a plethora of them to make the books impact stronger, by giving names and introductions. Sadly it didn’t work for me, it just created more branches that were not needed. Character development was not something expected from any of these almost random characters but I felt that Elwood’s character should have been given more focus.
Somewhere I feel an all knowing narrative would’ve worked better, and by part two of the book it was slowly becoming a extremely tiresome to read.
Two instances of the book will catch your attention, the Encyclopedia in part one and the Lashes in part two. Both should have had a bigger emotional impact but somehow felt like they were trying too hard.
By the end of part three where the book takes a really big turn and jumps way ahead, we learn about the effects the school has had on the boys. This would’ve been my favorite part but it seemed like there was forced purpose behind the ending. Colson wanted to end the book a certain way and he wrote FOR the book and not the story.
There is a unexpected twist at the end which does change a lot of the experience but by then it was too late for me to like it.
An interesting book, a great conversation generator as well. I guess when we think about books with racism at its core, we expect to be moved a bit more, maybe that’s our fault as readers, maybe that’s just reality.
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