Finley is white, and a minority in both his school and on his basketball team. He and his girlfriend, Erin, practice all summer in anticipation of their senior year playing basketball. They both hope to help their teams get to the playoffs and that sports will get them scholarships to college to get out of their mob-ruled, broken down town.
Finley's coach asks him to befriend a new kid, Russ, who came from California and is living with his grandparents because his parents were murdered. Russ is also a star basketball player, being nationally recruited. But Coach wants Finley to keep that a secret. Russ wants nothing to do with basketball and talks about outer space all the time. He thinks that's where his parents are, and they are coming to pick him up and take him with them. He insists on being called Boy 21.
Another thing that makes the coach's request difficult is that if Russ decides to play basketball, he will take Finley's spot--and his jersey number (21).
Finley also has his own problems. There are secrets in his family. His mother is gone, but the reader doesn't know what happened to her. His grandfather is a paraplegic who spends his time in a wheelchair.
Boy 21 is a quick read and the characters are engaging. The ending was very quick -- and a little hard for me to buy. The tension mounts nicely, and I think teens will find this exciting, but I had a difficult time believing it all.
Boy 21 would be great for reluctant readers and basketball fans.
Published by Little, Brown BFYR, 2012
Copy obtained from the library
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