Wednesday 1 October 2014


Book review: Boy21 by Matthew Quick

My edition: Paperback, published on 19th June 2014 by Headline, 277 pages.

Description: 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.


After reading Matthew Quick's amazing novel Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock earlier this year (find my review here) I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review the author's latest release in the UK, now aimed at a younger audience.

After being so impressed by the first book I read from Quick, I admit I had incredibly high expectations for this one and because of this it was hard to give it a fair shot - as it simply wasn't quite as good as Leonard Peacock. Don't get me wrong, this was still an excellent piece of writing, particularly aimed at this age group, but it wasn't one of those novels I can't stop thinking about and I find myself recommending extensively to everyone who is looking for a new read.

In fact, while I was impressed by the writing whilst reading, I kept putting off publishing my review as I found it difficult to think of something defining to say about the novel. What made it stand out from other reads and why should people pick it up when dozens of new books get published each week?

The story centers on Finley, a bit of a misfit he lives for the game of basketball, a passion he shares with his one and only friend, also his girlfriend, Erin. The two are glued at the hip during off-season, though they have a rule that they take a break during b-ball season - so they can fully focus on the sport and their roles in their respective teams.

As the only white player in his team, Finley is used to being an outcast but he is okay with that because he has Erin, his dad and Pop. However, his role in the team and the fact that he's somewhat removed from his team mates make him (according to his coach) the perfect person to befriend a new kid qho is about to join the same high school, one who goes by the name of Boy21.

Boy21, formerly known as Russell, was a basketball wunderkind who hasn't played since his parents were murdered. Now having moved in with distant relatives, his family hopes that he can make a fresh start at a new school and perhaps even snap out of his obsession with outer space. They think that with a kindhearted friend like Finley this may be possible. The only problem is, that Boy21 was one of the best basketball players of his age in the country and if Finley does help him and he gets his mojo back, then they'll be competing for the same spot in the team.

With big letters, a slightly simplistic form of storytelling and a low page number this is definitely a novel aimed at a younger audience, but that doesn't make the themes of acceptance and friendship that run through it any less valid. In fact, aimed at such an impressionable audience it's even more important to show what a difference a kind word and an offer of friendship can bring to the life of someone who is traumatised and broken.

I loved seeing the dynamic between Finley and Boy21, and in a smaller way Erin, change throughout the course of the novel. Yes, there were up and downs as neither of the characters were selfless angels, but in the end they knew what was right and what was wrong, and it's their unusual bond that gets them through the toughest of times when a secret from Finley's past comes back to make his life miserable.

While Boy21 had a gentle start of hesitating friendship and loyalty, it burst into a roller-coaster ride of revelations towards the end. And it was heartwarming to read how even the most unlikeliest of people can form such meaningful relationships and change the course of another person's life.

You can purchase a copy of the novel from Waterstones, or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with him online at:



Twitter: @MatthewQuick21

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the novel via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

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