Boy21 by Matthew Quick
"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 absolutely loved Matthew Quick’s Sorta Like a Rock Star, so I knew I had to give Boy21 a shot despite the fact that I’m not a big basketball person. It took a few chapters, but as soon as the character Boy21, or Russ, which is his real name, was introduced I was hooked.
Boy21/Russ is such an insanely unique character—it’s impossible to not love him from the very start. Finley, the narrator, is also another one of those characters whose voice and story will stick with you even once the book is over. It has been been a week since I’ve finished Boy21 and Finley and Russ and everything about the book is still lingering in my mind like a pleasant aftertaste.
Much like Sorta Like a Rock Star, Boy21 is able to capture a lot of emotion and life between its pages. There were times I kind of wanted to cry because there were just so much emotion in the words and relatableness in the thoughts.
There were several lives throughout the book that stood put to me, but there was one in particular that really struck a note with me and that one was: “You can lose yourself in repetition—quiet your thoughts; I learned the value of this at a very young age.” It’s just so brilliant, at least to me anyways.
Boy21 isn’t a terribly long book with only around 250 pages, so admittedly I was sad to see it end and had to resist picking it back up and re-reading it.
I really enjoyed Boy 21, so I’m going to have to recommend it to all YA contemporary fans, even if you aren’t a basketball or sports person. Give Boy21 a chance and chances are that you’ll most likely find yourself drawn into the world and lives of Finley, Russ, and all the other characters.
Source: Finished Copy for Review