In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”


My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

BOY 21 by Matthew Quick


copyright date: March 2012
primarily marketed for: young adults

“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,” Russ says.

-from Boy 21 by Matthew Quick


Boy 21 by Matthew Quick was a book that surprised me with its depth.  On the surface it is the story of a basketball player who is challenged when a talented new player, who is used to wearing the same number as him, moves to his school.  However, there are many layers woven into that seemingly simple story. 

Basketball means everything to Finley.  The only thing that comes close to meaning as much to him is his girlfriend Erin.  When Finley’s coach asks him for a favor and requests he keep it a secret, life starts to get complicated.  There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for coach.  Or is there? 

It is clear from the beginning that Finley’s habit of not talking much means there is something he wants to avoid talking and thinking about.  Coach asks him to befriend a new student who is a talented basketball player.  The thing is, since being traumatized by his parents’ death, the new kid doesn’t play basketball, doesn’t talk about anything other than being sent on a mission from outer space, and insists on being referred to as Boy 21 instead of his actual name. 

As Finley’s relationship with Boy 21 takes shape, his life becomes more and more complicated.  The neighborhood in which he lives is run by gangsters and the Irish mob.  He has to make tough choices to protect his girlfriend, his new friend, his family, and ultimately himself.   

This is a book of substance with a plot containing some action, a focus on basketball, and a story of maintaining relationships under extraordinary circumstances.  It is the kind of story that stays with you long after you close the book.

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