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Boy21

Review

Boy21

Finley lives in a broken-down town called Bellmont, filled with feisty community members battling such social ills as the Irish mob, violence and racially-motivated rivalries that play their angry game out on their streets. But it’s another game, however, that makes Finley’s life worth living: basketball. The one and only saving grace he has is his time on the court. At home, his dad is working nights to make ends meet, and Finley has to take care of his disabled grandfather. There is no dream that keeps him going greater than the one in which he wears his 21 jersey while winning big games. Someday he plans to leave Bellmont and go out into the big world, where things have to be better than they are now.

"Sports is a great way into the story, but the real reason to stay and enjoy is the multi-layered relationships that Quick uses to show the determination and humor of the human condition."

On the flip side, you have Russ. A basketball phenomenon who was a sure thing for the pros, his life has been knocked askew by what can only be called a tragedy. And with that one event, he is isolated from all his friends and sports associates. He no longer picks up a ball and answers only to the name Boy21 --- the number that was on the jersey he used to wear when the future was brighter and basketball was going to save him.

These two boys come together in their senior year, and never have they needed each other more. Matthew Quick seems to understand these kids inside and out and brings the anxieties and subtle insecurities of adolescent boys to the fore with a quick, witty style that will surely engage all teens. Written in first person from Finley’s point of view, the reader takes a deep and compelling journey into the world inside his head as he tries to fight for his life in the world outside. There is so much written about girls’ relationships with their friends at this age, but rarely has an author managed to make boys’ concerns so perfectly manifested in two characters who you will think about long after you put the book down.

Sports is a great way into the story, but the real reason to stay and enjoy is the multi-layered relationships that Quick uses to show the determination and humor of the human condition. BOY21 is a great read for teen boys and girls alike; everyone will relate to the boys’ trials and tribulations and how they find a way out of their problems.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on April 27, 2012

Boy21
by Matthew Quick

  • Publication Date: March 5, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316127973
  • ISBN-13: 9780316127974