Boy21

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It’s never been easy for Finley, particularly at home. But two things keep him going: his place on the basketball team and his girlfriend, Erin – the light in even the darkest of his days.

Then Russ arrives. He answers only to Boy21, claims to be from outer space, and also has a past he wants to escape. He’s one of the best high school basketball players in the country and threatens to steal Finley’s starting position.

Against all the odds, Russ and Finley become friends. Russ could change everything for Finley, both for better and for worse. But sometimes the person you least expect can give you the courage to face what’s gone before …and work out where you’re going next.

My opinion: I loved Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook and I also love a good YA book, so had high hopes for this book.

Finley is from an Irish American family living in a tough neighbourhood and is the only white boy on his basketball team. Although life isn’t perfect, particularly at home with his father and disabled alcoholic grandfather, his girlfriend Erin and basketball make his life pretty ok. When he is asked by Coach to make friends with new kid Russell, his life changes in more ways than he can imagine. Despite Russell being pretty weird with an obsession with space and his insistence that his name is Boy21, Finley likes him, and finds some room in his life for a new friend.

I really liked this book and read it more or less in one sitting. It was refreshing to read a YA book which wasn’t about romance, but instead it was about the friendship of two boys, something I don’t think I’ve read about before. I’m probably the least sporty person ever, so the basketball references put me off a bit at first, but once the story got going, I could see why it was such a key aspect of the book, and found that I didn’t really need to understand the terminology to read the book. In the style of the best YA books, Boy21 deals with a number of difficult issues including grief, gang culture, poverty and families. I thought it was really well done by the author though as I didn’t feel that anyone theme defined the book and were just part of life, rather than necessarily being a focal point.

I really liked the writing style and felt that the story was well paced and flowed really well. It was a short book, but to be honest I think it was the perfect length. I don’t like books that are long for the sake of being long and being able to fit everything you want to say in a shorter book is a quality I like in authors. I would like to read more about the characters to see what happens next, and how they each get on following graduation. I really felt that Finley, Russell and Erin were all really likeable, and probably more so as none of them were jock type characters and were all a bit weird in their own special way. I really like these sorts of characters as they are more realistic and I know that I am bit weird in my own way too!

A really good read, and another good American YA book to add to the growing list of books that I wish were around when I was a teenager (not that it stops me reading them now!). I’d definitely recommend this book and will have to get round to reading more of Matthew Quick’s books soon!

My rating: Four stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Headline, via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review

The Silver Linings Play Book

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Pat Peoples has a theory that his life is actually a movie produced by God, and that his God-given mission in life is to become emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending – which, for Pat, means the return of his estranged wife Nikki, from whom he’s currently having some ‘apart time.’ It might not come as any surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility. When Pat leaves hospital and goes to live with his parents, however, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends now have families; his beloved football team keep losing; his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. And he’s being haunted by Kenny G. There is a silver lining, however, in the form of tragically widowed, physically fit and clinically depressed Tiffany, who offers to act as a go-between for Pat and his wife, if Pat will just agree to perform in this year’s Dance Away Depression competition…

My opinion: I’m just going to come straight out and say it. I loved this book. I bought it a while ago and only wish I had read it sooner!

We follow Pat following his conditional discharge from a mental hospital where he had been staying after a breakdown. When he goes back to live with his parents he seems shocked at the amount of changes there are in the world when he believes he has only been in hospital for a few months.

This story was really well written and really captured Pat’s feelings and frustrations about the world and some of the people in it. He learns to live again, but not without a few more ups and downs to tackle first.

When I read this book I literally could not put it down and flew through it. It was tragic and horribly sad in parts and in others it was humorous and had a real feel good feel to it.

I would definitely recommend this book and loved the fact that on top of all of the other good things about it, it is a book about books! Definitely one for me.

My rating: Five stars!

Original review at Reading in Progress.