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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  3,308 ratings  ·  634 reviews
Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team. He’s always dreamed of getting out somehow with his girlfriend, Er...more
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published March 5th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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2012 YA Contemporaries
95th out of 294 books — 2,481 voters
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Mock Printz 2013
39th out of 92 books — 477 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 14, 2012 Tatiana rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kirkus
Shelves: 2012, ala-ya-2013, ya
As seen on The Readventurer

There is not nearly enough YA books about friendships. For some strange reason, romantic relationships are promoted as more important. While I agree that at some point in life you do meet that special person who becomes your partner in everything, up until that point it is friends that help you out, support you, accompany you through life.

Friendship, the healing, supporting, non-judgmental type of friendship, is what Boy21 is about. Or is supposed to be about.

I love th...more
What a peculiar book. I'm not saying it was necessarily too offbeat but it was different in a way I didn't expect it to be. In a good way. In an excellent way actually.

Finley is heading into his senior year. Things look good for the most part. As good as things can be with living in Belmont--a town run by the Irish mob. He's been training all summer with his girlfriend Erin for basketball season. They both are on basketball teams. Erin is a star on the girls’ team and is pinning her hopes on ge...more
May 01, 2012 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Cara
4.5 Stars

“You don’t always get to pick the role you’re going to play in life, but it’s good to play whatever role you got the best way you can.”

Fate and its fun little twists can bring people together. When we need a push or hand, life seems to provide inspiration or help in one form or another. I believe with all my heart that we bump into and find people in this world when we need them the most. No matter how far we have to go—through time, land, space, or high school. In Matthew Quick’s Boy 2...more
Finley's entire life is basketball and he trains tirelessly even though he's nowhere near the best player on the team. As his dad says, effort can outwork talent. Basketball consumes his every waking thought and he wouldn't have it any other way. Without basketball and the team he'd have too much time to remember all of the things he's desperate to forget. Russ is new to town, a basketball phenom who's love of the game died with his parents. Now he's calling himself Boy21, saying he's an alien l...more
Sarah (YA Love)
**I just finished reading this again as a read aloud. I love this book. 10/17/12**

Review originally posted at Y.A. Love

Plain and simple, Boy21 is a GREAT book. I was on the search for a quality read aloud for my freshmen English classes, so I picked up Boy21 on a whim. I wanted to read it anyway, but I kept thinking about my 3rd hour freshmen class that’s primarily boys who don’t enjoy reading. Boy21 seemed like the perfect fit for them, so I went with my hunch and started reading it. As soon as...more
This review said EVERYTHING I wanted to say.

While I mostly thought it was a good concept of friendship, as well as personal conflict of love and basketball, alas, I was disappointed to feel that the conflict (and the idea) never really fully developed. The friendship was overshadowed. I never really got to see Finley and Russ connecting over basketball. Plus the Irish mob plot was a bit too much for me to completely enjoyed this book. Too many things at once. I am sure I will be happier if the...more
I think I have some sort of crying disorder. Seriously. The characters in this book have their tragedies and vulnerable emotional moments, both big and small, and it's all very authentic, but c'mon.

Next thing I know, I will be crying at heartwarming television commercials.

Oh wait, that's already happened. I need to read something funny, like NOW.

Real review later. This will be a good one for reluctant teen readers who want something both unusual and serious that doesn't talk down to them.

[I edi...more
Ella Fitzgerald-I'm beginning to see the light

WOW! This book was not what I expected it to be at all. I didn't expect to sympathize or connect to this book, because I felt like it would be JUST about basketball (Sport ,in general, are not my forte). Boy, was I wrong. This book has probably been the book I've connected to the most.

Why is it that some people are born into fantastic situations and others wait their whole lives for a break?

Friends and characters like Finley rarely exist in real li...more
5 stars

What made me pick Boy21 up? I've been trying to come up with the answer for about an hour now, but it's just not something I can explain, not in objective terms. It was like my spider sense was tingling or something. I only knew that this book would be something different, in a good way. I hadn't read anything by Matthew Quick before, or even heard of him. Yet everything about this book called to me. The title, the cover, the blurb - everything.

When I started the book, other than it's g...more
Jun 03, 2013 MLE rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: yad
Going into this book I thought it was going to be a story about friendship, and how that changes each boy's life, but I was very disappointed. It felt like the friendship was never given the chance to develop, and was almost an afterthought, and not the central theme of the story like the synopsis seemed to suggest.

I liked Finley, and I felt for his struggles, and his work ethic. I liked that not being a star basketball player didn’t keep Finley from working harder than the anyone else on the te...more
(2/1/13) My school’s book club chose this book because the author is coming to be a speaker at the annual writing conference. It was chosen I guess so we can ask him questions about it at the conference. I also have to write a small review for the school newspaper so I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do that…

Here’s the thing. I don’t like basketball. I don’t like playing it, watching it; I think it’s pretty boring. But it is a huge deal at my school. The basketball team is doing really well (s...more
Wow. Oh. Wow.

I did not know what to expect from this book. The cover didn't really appeal to me, but the gal at the Little Brown booth at IRA 2011 told me I HAD TO read it.

Wow. Oh. Wow.

She was right. This is a gorgeous book. A strange, wonderful, heartbreaking book. I read this in less than a day, I couldn't put it down. Once you start reading about Finley, and Erin, and Russ (who might be from space) you will not be able to stop.

This book comes out in March 2012, according to the back of the Ad...more
Erin Cataldi
I didn't even read the description, I saw it was written by Mathew Quick and I started reading. Two hours later I was crying in a bathtub and screaming at my cat. This book is intense. I was quite literally hooked from the very first sentence. I started reading it at dinner and I couldn't put it down, so naturally I took it in the tub with me to continue. An hour later I was crying in freezing cold water and yelling at the kitten to shut up and stop headbutting the door. It was so good I couldn'...more
I loved "The Silver Linings Playbook" film (I've seen it several times now) and wanted to read the book, but since my sister gave me this to read, I started my Matthew Quick intro with this. And I'm glad I did! The protagonist and narrator, Finley, is intriguing: terse to the point of non-verbal, because of trauma that is only hinted at and never completely revealed in graphic detail (thank goodness!) is a lovely person with which to navigate the extremely impoverished and violent world somewher...more
Cait Grace
I really loved Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, so HECK YEAH, I was up for another of his books. Boy21 was freakishly different and didn't connect with me I don't do the sport thing. Why do people always fight over a ball? SHARE IT, FOOLS. Didn't you learn that in preschool?

This is me with anything to do with sport:
Yeah. No.

As long as you like basketball, this book should be awesome for you, because the writing is GREAT. Matthew Quick is the master of writ...more
Olga Kowalska
It's really hard to write something that intense about this story as the story itself - it's sad but yet full of hope, full of belief that a better life is possible, that miracles might really happen. Maybe not as spectacular as in the movies or books, however little miracles of everyday life, something to be really thankful for. Simply beautiful.
Emily Bradley-dorman
"Whenever I think the world is ugly - that life has no meaning at all - I remind myself that this is here, always waiting for me."

I think that even if I combed through every word in the English language I wouldn't be able to find the right ones to describe just how amazing this book is. It's Epic with a capital E! The story itself is relatively simple and yet it's characters are complex and the writing effortless. Boy21 drags you into its pages from the very first sentence and doesn't let you g...more
Jo Sorrell
Jan 23, 2013 Jo Sorrell marked it as to-read
From LMNet

8th grade boy came in this morning to tell me that Boy 21 (by Matthew Quick) was the best book he's ever read, and he made me promise to recommend it to others, so here you go! The boy who recommended it is a middle child in a huge family, and has
older siblings with heavy issues. The book has been popular here with boys of different races and reading abilities and interests. I haven't read it myself, but here's the Kirkus review:

In a town partially controlled by the Irish mob, a quie...more
Kelly Hager
Finley's whole world is basketball. He lives in a poor town with his father and grandfather (who's in a wheelchair; taking care of him is one of Finley's main responsibilities). He loves his family but really, he just wants to get out of Bellmont with his girlfriend, Erin. And basketball is the way out for both of them (Erin is also really good). And then his coach gives him an assignment: there's going to be a new student, Russ. His parents were murdered, and he's currently going through a hard...more
I received a signed copy of this book through the goodreads First-read program.

Boy21 is a coming of age story about a boy, Finley, who has a deep passion for basketball, without much talent. He develops an unexpected friendship with another boy, Russ aka "Boy21," who has a lot of talent, but little interest in the sport. The two are very similar and, at the same time, very different within their similarities.

The relationship between these two is interesting, but I felt it could have been explor...more
Finley McManus loves being a starter on the varsity basketball team, even though he knows there's no chance to go pro. Basketball gets him away from the Irish gangs, the racial tensions, and the dullness of his family life. When Russ Washington comes to town, Finley gets a bit worried, both for his place on the team and for Russ himself. Russ's family was recently murdered, and Russ is now going by Boy21, claiming to be an extraterrestrial waiting for his parents to claim him when their tour of...more
Greta is Erikasbuddy
Mar 19, 2012 Greta is Erikasbuddy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Every boy in the world !
Praise for "Boy 21"!!

It is by far the best contemporary book for boys that I have ever read!!

Imagine if you will someone like Bruce Wayne. His parents get murdered and he decides to become Batman to protect the greater good.

Now flip it and imagine that Bruce Wayne is still a boy, his parents are still murdered, but Bruce isn't Batman.... he just wants everyone to believe that he is. He's just an average kid that starts talking crazy.

That's how I took Russel.

His parents were murdered in Californ...more
A slice of life about how one violent act has the power to change our perception of ourselves, the people we love, our environment, our priorities, and the measure of kindness we show others. There is a quote in the book by Scottie Pippin that says, "Sometimes a player's greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team."

The characters in this story have a tough time coming to grips with their past and their future as they learn that who they are meant to be in life may be differen...more
wow, a surprisingly great book.

I'm surprised only because, when reading the synopsis, this is not my typical kind of book. I don't typically read books about male friend ship and especially not about male friendships and basketball.

but I really enjoyed this book. It's not so much about boys or basketball, but is about friendship and love and how to weigh what's important in life.

Finley is an amazing kid to get to know. Boy 21 keeps you guessing.

but, by and far, Erin was my favorite character. I...more
As a teacher I had to read this as part of our One Book One School initiative. What a great book. I loved this book. Dug all the characters and their predicaments and even their resolution. The scene where they listen to Sun Ra was awesome. Wish my own kid had to read this instead of the stupid book their school chose.
Ɲαʈαsɦα ♕

4.5 Stars

"Just do your best. Remember-it's a long race and you can always outwork talent in the end."


For allowing me to revel in every single one of Matthew Quick's glorious works of fiction. I seldom rate novels 5 stars, as I believe that giving a book 5 stars implies that the book was absolutely perfection and nothing less of that. Nevertheless, I must say that Boy21 was pretty darn close. I have indeed read a Matthew Quick novel beforehand and that was The Silver Lining's Playbook which is,...more
Ben P
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Quick does not write ordinary books and Boy21 is certainly not an ordinary book. It is one of those kinds of books that stay with you for a long time. Finley, Erin and Russ are high school seniors. They all use the game of basketball as the means to an end. For Finley basketball is an escape from his reality, for Erin it is a means of escape from poverty with the hopes of a college scholarship and for Russ it is the opposite. Russ has turned his back on his successes in basketball and re...more
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, Headline, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.

I’ve noticed a formula with all of the Matthew Quick books I’ve read so far. They all feature:
- a main character (or characters) with quirky habits or personal issues that go deeper than they initially appear to
- an emphasis on the importance of family and friendship, no matter how rocky the relationship, or how difficult things might be
- a particular hobby o...more
J.A. Belfield
Boy21 … man, so many feels I don’t know where to start.

Okay, so we have Finley, who thinks, despite being poor, he has pretty much all he needs in life: Erin and basketball. However, when new guy Russ moves into town and coach assigns Finley the task of befriending Russ, Finley has no idea just how much his life is about to change. Because there’s a lot more to coach’s request than meets the eye.

Meet Russ. Ex-awesome basketball player, son of famous basketball player, and damaged teen due to th...more
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SPSV Mrs. Rodgers...: Tyree Hornbeck 1 4 Dec 05, 2013 12:11PM  
Crazy for Young A...: Boy21 by Matthew Quick → Start Date: September 25, 2013 27 22 Sep 28, 2013 12:45PM  
2013 Hub Reading ...: Boy21 1 7 Feb 25, 2013 01:33PM  
AFS Summer readin...: How Finley and Boy21 were treated 2 4 Sep 03, 2012 01:15PM  
AFS Summer readin...: Finley and Erin's relationship 1 3 Sep 01, 2012 08:46AM  
Boy21 = Boy 21 3 15 Aug 28, 2012 12:59PM  
Taking a Break 1 10 Aug 22, 2012 12:38PM  
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Matthew Quick is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. He lives with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
More about Matthew Quick...
The Silver Linings Playbook Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock The Good Luck of Right Now Sorta Like a Rock Star Love May Fail

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“Someday an opportunity will come. Think about Harry Potter. His life is terrible, but then a letter arrives, he gets on a train, and everything is different for him afterward. Better. Magical."
"That's just a story."
"So are we- we're stories too.”
“I can always look up at the cosmos and marvel, no matter what happens. And when I look up at it, I feel as though my problems are small. I don't know why, but it always makes me feel better.” 16 likes
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