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The Nickel Boys    by Colson Whitehead order for
Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead
Order:  USA  Can
Anchor, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton

Fiction or Not?

The book is listed as a novel but tells a true story of an all too real place, the Dozier School for boys in Marianna Florida, also know as the White House School. The story makes for painful but riveting reading from start to finish. The real difference here from other versions is the tale of the black inmates who were, if possible, worse off than their white compatriots.

Elwood is the fictional hero of the book who was sent to this place because he hitched a ride with a car thief. Naturally, no one believed him. He and his companions endured numerous beatings and torture. His problem was he was smarter than some of his cohorts and wrote down, names, dates, and atrocities. He also noted mass scandals where food and supplies were sold off black-market by the so-called administrators. The labor of these children was available for the asking the administrators got paid, the kids got nothing.

As one might suspect, there was no schooling, but there was lots of discipline, discipline that killed many. University of South Florida researchers dug up remains many years later and researched records and family ties. I won't ruin the book by telling you what happened to Elwood, but it makes for great story telling.

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