SML Book Club Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead led by Claudia Cayne
It is the early 1960s, and as the Civil Rights movement begins to reach segregated Tallahassee, the young, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to heart: he is “as good as anyone.” He works hard and has dreams of participating in the black civil rights struggle.
An unlucky encounter lands him in Nickel Academy, a state-sponsored reform school for boys. There, Elwood meets Turner and a host of other black boys looking to navigate the system and work their way out.
On first glance, Nickel appears innocuous, with its neatly kept lawns and red-brick buildings, but harsh and horrific realities gradually set in. Through these boys, Whitehead provides a glimpse into Jim Crow-era America, its grisly secrets and its lessons on human nature and racial inequality.The Nickel Boys is a devastating, riveting narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.