Boy21 by Matthew Quick (review by Mrs. Vaughan, Harker librarian)

Boy21Boy21 by Matthew Quick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stoically determined Finley McManus started shooting hoops to hide from the horrific circumstances of his mother’s death when he was too small for a regulation size rock. Now he’s a senior and starting point guard on the his inner city high school team dating Erin, an even better player looking to head to a D1 college on scholarship. Basketball is their ticket out of their frightening existence dominated by racial violence, gangs and drugs. As the school year begins Coach asks Finley to mentor newly arrived Russ, a young man struggling to recover from the recent murders of his parents and a world class baller who is on a fast track to the NBA. Since his parents’ deaths, however, Russ has given up the game and lives in the self-created delusion that he’s Boy21, an alien from outer space. Finley, the consummate team player, takes on his coach’s request even though getting Boy21 to turn back into Russ will almost certainly threaten Finley’s starting position. Quick has written a powerful and gripping novel driven by the genuine depictions of fully realized characters. It is about much more than basketball. Quick does not shy away from tackling issues of race, class, or the ever tenuous fine line of gang politics. And when a sudden and frightening event turns Finley’s world upside down — just as Boy21 is emerging from a shell few people understand — Quick turns everything up a notch. Up for consideration: What are you willing to give up to help someone in need? When should loyalty trump self-preservation? Fans of John Green, David Leviathan, David Brooks, John Barnes and other experts in realistic fiction, will read, love and remember Boy21. Not to be missed. – Mrs. Vaughan, Harker librarian

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