“A chilling, masterful novel that explores the depths of evil and the resilience of the human spirit. Whitehead’s prose is dazzling, and the narrative’s nimble twist is a swift kick to the solar plexus.”


This novel is based on the true story of a school for wayward boys that existed for over 100 years in the panhandle of Florida.

Our story begins with the discovery of unmarked graves in the back yard of the school. It then flashbacks to the early 60’s where the story of Elwood Curtis, a young black boy begins. Elwood lives with his grandmother, is very bright and is preparing to enter college when one evening while hitchhiking the car is pulled over and it is discovered that the car is stolen. Although Elwood had no knowledge of this , he is arrested and sent ho this correctional school where if you Follow all of the rules , you can get released early.

But it’s virtually impossible to follow all of the rules. And if you are a problem child then you are sent up the White House for a beating. If you really are a problem than you are taken out back and never seen again.

Elwood will be beaten and will witness many injustices to both white and black boys, but the black boys are treated especially harshly. We will follow him through his entire time at the school and we will see him develop friends that all must work hand in hand in order to exist in a decent manner.

The book is heart wrenching as we read page after page of the atrocities that Elwood and the other boys must endure in order to get out.

Whitehead has once again hit it out of the park only this time it is not a revisionist history but an accurate one. Easily one of the best books of the year.

Highly recommended.


Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 7th September 2019

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Richard Franco