Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Boy21 by Matthew Quick!

This book was my third by Quick, and after being meh about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and loving Every Exquisite Thing, I wasn't sure how it would go. I think this one is the middle of the previous books I've read of his.

The story follows 17-year-old Finley in his last year of high school. He lives in a rough town; everything is run by the Irish mob, violence, and racial tensions. But for Finley, basketball is his reprieve. He's the starting point guard (I really don't know what that means, from what I got in the book, he's good but not like the guy who gets baskets?) until one day when Coach asks him to befriend a new kid, Russell Allen. Russ is dealing with the murder of his parents and after moving from California takes on the name Boy21 and talks incessantly about outer space, the one tie he has left to his father.

This book had Quick's signature quirkiness to it that makes people either love it or hate it. I liked Russ's character, I think it was pretty clear he was using this obsession with space to create a new reality for himself where his parents weren't dead. It was his way of coping. Finley, similarly, doesn't like to talk sometimes so he doesn't. He's dealing with his own issues and we don't find out where his mother is until closer to the end of the book.

It's a short book, only about 250 pages but I wish there was a little bit more on the background information or on the mental illness/coping side of things. The story focuses on the present mostly but I think there were opportunities for more.

The story touched on some racial tensions but not as much as I was expecting.

I think the weirdest thing for me was that this book felt a little dated. I'm not sure if it was because I knew it had come out 5 years ago or maybe because in my occasionally optimistic mindset I don't want to believe that this is the life some people still live. There is nothing in the book that makes me think it didn't come out recently but at the same time, I feel like social tensions have shifted? I don't really know.

I would say that even though the main character is at the top end of the age range for YA, this book felt a little young to me. The book starts off with a preface of Finley being a little boy and it took me a long time to shake that age. The subject matter definitely matchings older readers but Finley and some parts of the story felt a little juvenile.

Overall, not as good as other works by Quick but I enjoyed it nonetheless.