By Matthew Quick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 250 pages
Narrated by Finley, a boy in love with basketball, Boy21 by Matthew Quick will catch readers by surprise with its combination of unique characters, emotion, and friendship.
Finley is the only white player on his basketball team, and has earned himself a starting position with his dedication to practice and training. When Russ moves to town, Coach asks Finley to stick with him and eventually get him to go out for basketball. Finley finds this is no easy task, as Russ only answers to the name Boy21 and has an unusual fascination with space.
Perhaps the worst part for Finley is that Boy21 was an all-star basketball player on his last team-not only playing as the same jersey number (21), but also in the same position as Finley. Their friendship helps Russ deal with the past he ran from, but the strain on their relationship due to basketball allows true reflection and excellent prose from Quick to shine.
The narration from Finley strikes a perfect balance between inner dialogue and emotion as he struggles to find his place after Coach essentially asks him to do what’s best for the team.
Reviewed by Shanyn Day