When Finlay’s basketball coach asks him for a favour, little does Finlay know that his whole world will be turned upside down by what lies ahead. Finlay has spent the summer in training to be the best basketball player on his team. He and his seasonal girlfriend, Erin, have worked hard pushing themselves to get the best results from their body. For them, basketball may be a way out of the town where they live; a town that is damaged through gang and drug crime.
However, when the coach asks Finlay to take new boy Russ under his wing, Finlay’s spot on the team becomes questionable. To make matters worse, Finlay has to protect Russ, the boy taking his position from the rest of the school. Russ, who is suffering from PTSD after the death of his parents likes to be referred to as Boy21 and believes his father is going to come from outer space and remove him from the planet Earth. This is a lot more than Finlay bargained for in hs final year of high school
Having read all but one of Matthew Quick’s books (Sorta Like A Rockstar is on my TBR pile) I have to say that so far Boy21 has been my favourite. I loved the balance of real world problems with teen angst and drama. The linking to the cosmos and space made you see how small some of the problems actually were.
I think that Quick has a knack for finding a voice for contentious issues and displays them so well in his narratives. Finlay’s love of basketball versus the love he has for Erin; that Finlay wants to do right by Russ even though he knows that eventually it will cost him his spot on the basketball team.
Quick appeals to your emotional side, making you want to root for Finlay whilst seeing the bigger picture. He weaves a social setting which is fraught with drama yet does not seem unrealistic. He uses sports to show how it can help you, not only with your peer but by giving you something to focus on and root for. Quick has created a cast of characters and a story that leaves you thinking for a long time afterwards.
Boy21 by Matthew Quick is available now.