Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
Finley McManus lives in the small Pennsylvania town of Bellmont with his father and grandfather (Pop). The town is ruled by the Irish mob and the McManus men have suffered for it since Finley was a little boy. The two things Finley has to keep him going are his girlfriend Erin and basketball. The only white boy on team, his teammates call him White Rabbit. Going into his senior year, all Finley wants to do his play basketball and plan his escape from Bellmont with Erin. His plans are changed when his coach ask him to help a new student who goes by the name Boy 21. After a recent tragedy, Russell one of the top basketball players take on a new persona of Boy 21 and moves to Bellmont.
There were so many things I enjoyed about this one. Firstly, Finley's voice. I loved how the author quickly established exactly who Finley is and why basketball is so important to him. Quick paints a great picture of a racially divided town that has little going for it. I could easily feel the harsh history of the McManus as well as their Irish blood. One of the stories many strengths are the relationships, do in part to the excellent dialogue. Even though Finley and Russ come from two very different world, at different points each must step up to emotionally support the other. Boy 21 is a wonderful story with many well worked layers.