The Nickel Boys @colsonwhitehead @doubledaybooks #prejudice #jimcrow #reformschool #inhumanity #florida #1960s @absltmom

Perhaps reading this book would give one nightmares, horrible dreams about man’s inhumanity to other people. Perhaps it would come as a slap in your face to know that this book although fictional has a pretty large basis for what is written and pointed out. Perhaps it is that we do need to be reminded of our history in all its forms, be they good or bad, for it is only through knowing our history that we can strive to improve the way we move forward. The book is The Nickel Boys and the story it relates is one that needs to be told.

The Nickel Boys

“We must believe in our souls that we are somebody, that we are significant, that we are worthful, and we must walk the streets of life every day with this sense of dignity and this sense of somebody-ness.”

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I do remember learning about the way things were in the South in the mid twentieth century. Times were horrid for those whose skin color and poverty level did not match the general population. This book points to one place in particular, the Nickel School, a school for students fully devoted to segregation, Jim Crow, and the philosophy of keeping boys “in their place.” To this environment a young boy is sent. Elwood is a dedicated young man, wanting to go to college, further his learning, and become someone his beloved grandmother would be proud of. However, this den of racism, sadism, and malice is the last place where the dreams of Elwood would ever be realized.

The Nickel School is a place of sadistic cruelty, where despair and heartache lurks in the hallways and rooms leeching off the walls in the person of Maynard Spencer. A world of nightmares awaits Elwood, a boy who believes in the teachings of Martin Luther King. Elwood finds himself in a world where only sadism, racism, sexual abuse, torture, and the disappearance of boys to a place called the White House makes for a life of heinous and horrific times. How Elwood and another boy, Turner fare is the subject of this book that mesmerizes the reader with the evil that some did to others.

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This was a fascinating story, one that needed to be told especially since it is loosely based on a real reform school in Marianna, Florida called the Dozer School which closed in 2011. Interspersed throughout the story are real quotes from the boys, now grown to men, who spent time in this hell hole. There is also a graveyard that was dug up where many of the boys who had their life snuffed out were buried.

I couldn’t help but think as I read of the viciousness and cruelty, that we need to be reminded of what has gone on in our history. It is often said we must know history in order that the errors and cruelty do not once again raise its heinous head. Today we see the bubbling once again of hate, fostered by social media, the newspapers, and the newscasts. We can feel what we once thought would never be, once again is making our country divisive and full of hate. It may not be, that in our future, we will ever find that peace that Dr King so hoped for us.

and here’s the author:

4 thoughts on “The Nickel Boys @colsonwhitehead @doubledaybooks #prejudice #jimcrow #reformschool #inhumanity #florida #1960s @absltmom

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