Review: Boy21 by Matthew Quick

“It’s never been easy for Finley, particularly at home. But two things keep him going: his place on the basketball team and his girlfriend, Erin – the light in even the darkest of his days.

Then Russ arrives. He answers only to Boy21, claims to be from outer space, and also has a past he wants to escape. He’s one of the best high school basketball players in the country and threatens to steal Finley’s starting position.

Against all the odds, Russ and Finley become friends. Russ could change everything for Finley, both for better and for worse. But sometimes the person you least expect can give you the courage to face what’s gone before …and work out where you’re going next.”

Goodreads Description

(I know I don’t normally feature two covers for the same book, but I just love the black cover and wanted to share it with you. Headline published the yellow one  and the other one is Little, Brown’s version. The Goodreads link and synopsis are from Headline’s version. For the Little, Brown version, click here.)

That said, thanks to BookBridgr and Headline for the copy of Boy21! 🙂

The first thing I will say about this is: don’t be put off because it’s about basketball. I’m not into any sport, at all, but I enjoyed this book. It sucked me in from the first few chapters. I couldn’t put it down and I ended up finishing it within 12 hours of starting it.

Boy21 is a subtly beautiful novel about loss, change and emotional wellbeing in a “rough” community.

The characters are well fleshed out and likeable. The bond between Erin and Finley is gorgeous. Erin was my favourite character, although I had a soft spot for both Boy21 and Finley. These characters are growing up together in a part of the world that seemed incredibly unpleasant. Boy21 is about their journey out of that place; physically and metaphorically.

There was something sad and haunting about the entire novel, but especially the ending. (I won’t say more than that, but just know that this book won’t leave you after you put it down.)

If you do happen to like basketball, you will probably like this book; but it certainly isn’t just for basketball fans. It’s for everyone. The characters are basketball players and it’s a big part of their lives, but the basketball aspect feels like more of a backdrop to the real story. The real story is about human emotions.

This is a brilliant piece of literature and deserves a place on high school reading lists.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.


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