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by Matthew Quick
Everyone has a secret, something they don't want to share. And everyone has their own way of coping. Boy 21 is a story of two boys, they both have a secret that they are keeping far away from anyone, so deep it might scar them forever.
Finley is white. He lives for two things, basketball and Erin. He lives with his father and disabled grandfather. Finley doesn't want to talk about what happened to his mother, although the counselor keeps trying. They live in a town ruled by the Irish mob, but Erin's gangster brother has made sure that no one messes with them. Basketball is their ticket out of this depressing town. Right before he is about to wear #21 on the basketball team for his senior year, Russ comes to town.
Russ is black and is also harboring a secret, one that only Finley knows about. Finley has been entrusted to look after Russ, convince him to play basketball. Like Finley, basketball has been a huge part of Russ's life, and coach is hoping basketball will get him through this terrible tragedy. But Russ is coping (or not) in his own way, by having everyone call him by his basketball number; Boy 21.
Basketball, hope and friendship will help these boys overcome the adversity in their lives. But will their lives ever be the same? Find out in this well-written and compelling story about what it means to survive in a world that has dealt you a bad hand.