A Review of “Boy 21”


Growing up as a kid he always wanted to do something with writing.  Matthew Quick had always loved writing and reading while he was growing up.  Writing and reading helped him as he had to grow up inside the city of New Jersey.  The first book he wrote was The Silver Linings Playbook.  His other really good book is Boy 21, and that is the book that I read.  Boy 21 is a fiction book about basketball and how these two kids overcome hard life challenges.

Specifically,  Boy 21 is a young adult novel by Matthew Quick.Quick was born October 23rd, 1973 in Oaklyn, New Jersey.  With how big and sometimes how dangerous New Jersey can be, writing and reading helped him a lot when he was young.  Matthew Quick graduated high school from Collingswood High School.  Quick worked as an English teacher at La Salle University and also worked at Goddard College.  While Quick was growing up his father was a banker but he was not very good at it.  Now his father has become a way more successful banker than he was when Quick was young.  Matthew is married to Alicia Bessette.  Alicia is a novelist and a musician.  Matthew Quick started out by teaching High School English first.  Then after that he started to chase his dreams.  His first book The Silver Linings Playbook was actually made into an award winning film.

Although, most of Matthew Quick’s books are fiction, including Boy 21.  Quick’s novels are Young-adult novels or just adult novels.  When he left from being a teacher lots of people criticized him.  Everyone was telling him he would never make as much money as he was.  Then once people read his first book they second guessed themselves about saying Quick could never be a good writer.  In 2013, Matthew Quick was a finalist for TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list.  In his books he does have pieces in the book that are influential for lots of people.

In Boy 21, Coach was always close to Finley.  Finley who has a girlfriend named Erin but ONLY when it isn’t basketball season.  Finley thinks when it’s basketball season that basketball should be his girlfriend.   Coach had never asked Finley to take a ride in his truck with him before.  Finley thought that it meant something bad happened.  While in the truck coach just grinned and then looked at Finley.  After they did their small talk, the coach got to the point.  The coach’s point was that he wants Finley to help with a new kid who came completely across the U.S. to come to Belmont.  Belmont is a run down town ruled by racism, Irish Mob, drugs, and lots of violence.  The kid is Russ Washington who was a 5-star basketball recruit.  After last basketball season it was almost like he vanished.  His parents were murdered, so his closest relationship was his grandparents.  They lived in Belmont so he had to completely move across the U.S.  When he came to Belmont he didn’t talk very much but neither did Finley.   Coach thought it would be a good idea if they would become best friends.  When Finley first met Russ it was really awkward because Russ talked about space a lot.  Russ was taken to therapy around 3 times a week for what happened to his parents.  He thinks that his parents are coming to get him in a spaceship in a few months.  Russ or “Boy 21” has no interest for basketball right now.  Coach told Finley that he would have to guide Russ around the school and protect him.  Finley was being told by Coach to make sure that Russ comes to the basketball callout.  At practices it almost looked like Russ was messing up and missing shots on purpose.  The first team they played would double team Terrell which is their leading scorer.  That means Finley will be left wide open.  Finley wasn’t very positive and missed a lot and stopped shooting.  In the 2nd quarter Russ went in for Finley then Finley realized he got benched by Coach.  Erin told him it was because he quit shooting the ball.  Russ asked Finley if he could use his real skills and Russ agreed.  Russ ran the point and was around 6’5 so he was a big point guard, but he was quick enough and tall enough to run it.  Russ dribbled up the court and pulled up from around half-court and just nailed it.  He ended up scoring around 35 points.  

As a result, the next game he didn’t start and Finley was called in to the Coach’s office by the Assistant coach.  He was told Erin was in a hit and run accident and had hurt her leg really bad.  Finley didn’t start that game but was thinking why was he here and not with her.  In the first quarter Finley left and made sure it was okay with Coach.  Erin had shattered her leg and her face wasn’t very good.  After seeing her for 2 days he came back to see her and it said no visitors were allowed.  She wrote him a note saying sorry I will see you in a couple days.  As the days went by it kept happening but after a couple weeks he saw a moving truck at their house.  After lots of time passed it was graduation day and he finally got a letter.  As soon as he opened it he could tell it was Erin.  To sum the letter up it said I have a ticket for you to come to Rhode Island where we live now.  It said you would have to come today and can’t tell anyone but your family.  When Russ came to his house that morning he knew Erin contacted her.  Russ said “this may be the last time I will ever see you again, right?” and Finley said yes. Finley left home and went up with Erin where they live together.

The theme or the main lesson is to be with who cares more and loves more.  Belmont was a bad place and Finley knew he needed to get out of there the first chance he got.  The theme is about sports and about who cares more.  Finley could have stayed in the rundown town of Belmont, but he didn’t.  He knew it would be better for him in Rhode Island.  There wouldn’t be racism or an Irish mob that runs the town.  The main lesson that I took away from this book is to stick with the people you love.

I am affected by life lessons and through basketball lessons in this book.  The basketball lesson can help for more than just basketball players.  Coach told Finley to shoot and he didn’t so he got benched.  No matter what sport you are in, always listen to your coach no matter what.  I really liked this book a lot and would give it a 9/10.  I didn’t give it a 10 because I wish they would have said more about Finley and Erin once they moved to Rhode Island.  If many people were to read this they would probably take things from it also.  Quick writes how he is in life which is inspirational.


Works Cited:

Gorce, Tammy La. “Quick Time:Author Matthew Quick.” New Jersey Monthly, 13 Feb. 2014, njmonthly.com/articles/jersey-living/quick-time-author-matthew-quick/. Accessed 22 Feb. 2019.

“Matthew Quick.” Famous Birthdays, www.famousbirthdays.com/people/matthew-quick.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2019.