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Book Review: Boy21

Friday, April 6, 2012
by Matthew Quick

5 Stars: Recommended
Format: Hardback
Publication: March 5th, 2012
Pages: 250
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Buy it: Amazon (Hardcopy) | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in broken-down Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, his dad works nights and Finley is left alone to take care of his disabled grandfather. He's always dreamed of somehow getting out, but until he can, putting on that number 21 jersey makes everything seem okay.

Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. The life of this teen basketball phenom has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he won't pick up a basketball, and yet answers only to the name Boy21—taken from his former jersey number.

As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, "Boy21" may turn out to be the answer they both need. Matthew Quick, the acclaimed author of Sorta Like a Rock Star, brings readers a moving novel about hope, recovery, and redemption.

I read this book a couple weeks ago, and I still don't know if I can properly convey the beauty of this book. While the story is told from Finley's perspective, Boy 21 is the story of two boys, both of whom have worn the number 21 on their basketball uniform. Finley is the quiet kid who works hard to maintain his starter position on his team, and he sees a future with his girlfriend. Russ, on the other hand, is a genius basketball player, and he has taken on the name Boy21 in dealing with his parents' murder. When his coach asks Finley to take care of Russ, Finley guesses that it is because he's the only white kid in a team of black kids whereas Russ was the only black kid on a team of white kids.

In truth, the two boys need each other more than they can guess. Finley listens to Russ and doesn't push him for facts that he doesn't want to share, giving him time to heal. Russ teaches Finley what is really important to him. The two of them haven't lived easy lives. They have both retreated into their respective defense mechanisms: Russ through his extravagant alter ego of Boy21, and Finley through silence. Somehow, the two of them develop an understanding and, together, the two try to make the best of their respective circumstances.

Boy21 is about friendship, relationships (friends, love, and family), and priorities. It is about working through difficult situations and finding your place in life. I have been a fan of Matthew Quick since I read Sorta Like a Rock Star. Boy 21 has made me an even bigger fan. I definitely recommend his books to readers and look forward to reading his next work!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
1 comment on "Book Review: Boy21"
  1. This sounds amazing!

    I love sports stories and the metaphors associated with them. I love that the kids are both dealing with difficult backgrounds and how they will be healing together:)


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