Boy21 by Matthew Quick
This was my second Matthew Quick novel; the first of his teen novels. I'll start out by saying that I don't like teen novels. I stopped reading them when I was about 12. I always seemed to be one step ahead of what was written for my age group (being the snobby reader I was as a child). Now that I am an adult, I tend to stick with adult novels. I am not a teenager and don't understand that world as well as I did when I was one. I take that back, I never understood that world. That being said, I will always make off a star or two when it written for someone that is younger than me. While the novel may be great, as an adult I did not enjoy it as much as I feel I could have. I realize this is not the authors fault since not all novels can be written specifically for me, bu it's my blog therefore my rules. :)
Now that we have established some rules, I loved this novel. It starts out with a mystery; a kid who has a troubled past but won't talk about it. Growing up in a very rough neighborhood, Finley is one of very few white kids around. He keeps to himself, except for his girlfriend, and even than he's a "minimalist talker". While not the best at basketball, he works very hard to keep his starting position. He dreams of the day he can bail on this crime-riddled town with his girlfriend and never look back. Then his coach adds a complication.
Just before his senior year, his coach asks a favor of him. He wants him to befriend a new student. The new student's father was friends with the coach and had moved to LA where he was quite successful. After he and his wife were murdered, their son needed to get away and chose to stay with his grandparents. As a phenomenal basketball star, he changed his name and came to the small town.
Finely doesn't think much of this until he finally meets the boy. The boy is Boy21, an extraterrestrial. Or at least that's what he tells Finley.
Now Finley must try to help this kid cope with his tragic past and his new persona in a school where Finley himself doesn't fit in. Oh yeah, and Boy21 plays the same position as him. If he succeeds in helping Boy21, he will lose his starting position and be on the bench.
Wow! What a unique novel filled with unique characters. Once again, Quick enters the world of mental issues. Both Finley and Boy21 live with tragic pasts that they can't seem to face. Each chooses a different coping mechanism. While totally different, the two boys have an incredible amount in common.
Quick's story and characters were captivating. While unique, I found the characters easy to relate to. He spun a compelling tale, that was once again, hard to put down. I definitely recommend this novel!