Have a Gift or Promo Code? Get Started
Gift any 3, 6, or 12 month audiobook membership and get Circe for Free! Learn More
Price:

$24.50 USD

Get for Free with Membership

The Nickel Boys

A Novel

By Colson Whitehead
Narrated by JD Jackson & Colson Whitehead / 6 hours 45 minutes

In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

Bookseller Recommendation

The Nickel Boys

“A brilliant black boy, in the wrong car, meets the wrong cop. A for-profit penal system puts him in a reform school run by abusers, with a suspicious graveyard out back. What happens next is... a powerful arc bending toward justice? Colson Whitehead delivers a book about suffering that does not revel in suffering, a book about keeping soul in a broken world, a book that leaves the reader wanting the hero to embrace the person he has become.”

The Haunted Bookshop image Nialle, The Haunted Bookshop

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men."

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.

The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.

Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.


  Add to Your Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log In       Create Account
Gift

Give a Gift, Receive a Gift

Purchase any 3, 6, or 12 audiobook membership this holiday season and get a FREE copy of Circe!

Gift Now
 

“[A] remarkable novel.”

Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Bad Feminist

“A gripping and brilliant novel based on a true story about a boys' reformatory school in Florida in the 1960s. Whitehead is one of the most daring and gifted authors writing these days, and I will never miss one of his books.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls

“[Whitehead] is a splendidly talented writer, with more range than any other American novelist currently working—he can be funny, lyrical, satirical, earnest—whatever is needed by the work.”

George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo

About the Author

Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, which in 2016 won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the National Book Award and was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, as well as The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and The Colossus of New York. He is also a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a recipient of the MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships. He lives in New York City.


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. If it is true for you, it is true for someone else, and you are no longer alone. If everyone looked the other way, then everybody was in on it. If he looked the other way, he was as implicated as the rest. That's how he saw it, how he'd always seen things. Perhaps his life might have veered elsewhere if the US government had opened the country to colored advancement like they opened the army. But it was one thing to allow someone to kill for you and another to let him live next door.
Get Circe Free with Gift Membership Purchase Learn More