REVIEWFinley finds refuge in basketball; in the repetitive beat of the ball on the gym floor, the swish of the basket. In that rhythm he drowns out the loss of his mother, the strife of his family and the presence of neighborhood gangs. Basketball is Finley’s world until he meets Russ, or BOY21 as he prefers to be called. “I am BOY21 from the cosmos. I am stranded here on Earth, but I will be leaving soon.” In the face of a horrific tragedy, Russ has retreated from stark reality and to the stars. Placed in the role of protector and friend, Finley helps bring BOY21 back to Earth.
Told in gritty terse tones, BOY21 is a coming to grips with coming to age story, set in a place where there are no answers but those you create for yourself.
There are many ways that people handle tragedy. BOY21’s method was extreme, but so were Finley’s. Discuss the stages of grief and ways they are represented (or not) in BOY21 by comparing the two characters.
RELATED BOOKSOther young adult novels with resilient male protagonists:
Chbosky, Stephen. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. ISBN 9781451696202
Sonnenblick, Jordan. DRUMS, GIRLS, & DANGEROUS PIE. ISBN 9780439755191
Saenz, Benjamin Alire. LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER. ISBN 9781933693583