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BOY21 by Matthew Quick Kirkus Star

BOY21

By Matthew Quick

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: March 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-12797-4
Publisher: Little, Brown

In a town partially controlled by the Irish mob, a quiet friendship develops between two basketball players.

Finley doesn't say much, and his basketball teammates fondly call him White Rabbit, both for his quiet demeanor and for being the only white player on his high school team. He is surprised but willing when his coach introduces him to Russ Washington and asks Finley to look after him. Russ, a nationally recognized athlete, is experiencing post-traumatic stress after the murder of his parents. While there are hints that something in Finley's own past makes this assignment particularly relevant, Finley quietly but firmly refuses to discuss his own history with other characters or with readers. Instead, they see the friendship among the two boys and Finley's girlfriend, Erin, gently unfold and the mysteries surrounding Russ deepen. Does Russ want to play basketball or not? Does he really believe he is an alien called Boy21? The answers here are satisfying but never simple, and the setting, a working-class town where asking too many questions can have deadly consequences, is a bleak, haunting foil to the boys' comfortable silence. Family relationships are well-drawn, and foreshadowing is effective without being predictable.

A story that, like Finley, expresses a lot in relatively few words. (Fiction. 12 & up)