Tuesday, April 2, 2013
B is for Boy21!
Welcome to Day 2 of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge here at Reading on the F Train. Today's topic is Boy21!
I realized that, while I got to read several great books as a Cybils judge, I never shared my thoughts about them here (with the exception of Code Name Verity, which I have discussed at length.) So as their titles come up in the alphabet, I'll post the notes I wrote up after reading each one.
Today's title is Boy21:
Boy21 by Matthew Quick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I can’t remember the last time a book slammed against me like this, knocked all the air out of my lungs, made my ribcage sore from the impact. I mean, yes, it made me cry (in a lot of ways all at once) but more than that, it just blindsided me with how much I cared about everyone in it. It didn’t meet any of my expectations--I don’t know why, after a summer of sobbing over five seasons of Friday Night Lights, I didn’t expect to be blown away by a sports story--but it was nothing like I thought it would be. Basketball is there, but it’s there as something to work for, something to focus on, a ticket out of town and out of the terrible things that have happened to Finley and Russ. But the relationships--Finley’s family, his guidance counselor, his coach and teammates, and most of all Russ and Erin--those are what really make this book stand out. I am somehow invested in every character. Matthew Quick has an uncanny ability to show exactly what a character is feeling with just a few words. And it is worth mentioning, in light of much hand-wringing over the lack of “boy books” (a dopey concern, in several ways, the translation of which is “books with boy protagonists”) as well as the completely legit concern about a lack of POC in YA fiction and especially on book covers, this is a book with a male protagonist, and while Finley is Irish-American, many of the other characters (including the title character, Boy21 aka Russ) are African-American. This is the kind of book that I just want to wave around in public places until everyone reads it. I would hand this to any of my students--it’s well-written enough, and packs enough of an emotional punch, that my students who are avid readers of dystopia and romance might actually go for it, while it has enough grit and action that the very picky readers might give it a go as well. I would love to see this in classrooms alongside other recent classics like Monster and The Outsiders.
View all my reviews