Author: Matthew Quick
Description: Finley is the only white boy on his basketball team, and basketball is at the center of his life, along with his girlfriend Erin (who he breaks up with every basketball season so he can concentrate). One night, his coach—who he always obeys without question—asks him to mentor a new kid, a phenomenal basketball player whose parents have been murdered. Although Finley knows this new boy could take his starting spot on the team, he becomes friends with him; he calls himself Boy 21 and claims that his parents will soon return from outer space to take him back to his home planet.
Review source: ALA
Plot: Finley and Erin are Irish, and both of their families have connections to the Irish mob. Finley is torn between being a true friend and fighting for his place on the team, and as they approach college, both Finley and Erin must decide how to escape the dead-end neighborhood they live in.
Characters: The characters here, both main and supporting, are nicely written. Erin might be just a little too perfect a girlfriend, but otherwise, they come across as real. For me, the sign of well-drawn characters is that they grow throughout the novel, and make difficult decisions based on the characters they are.
Writing style: This is a YA book; while emotions are intense, and characters face difficult situations, it is appropriate for teen readers.
Audience: Teens, especially those who enjoy books about sports, though adults will enjoy it aw well.
Wrap-up: A sports book that escapes its genre to become more than a cliché. 4/5* Note: Quick is also the author of Silver Linings Playbook; a movie based on it will open at Thanksgiving. Though I've not read the book or seen the movie, I'd recommend it just based on this book.