Russ, a super-star teenager who does not want to even be a player, comes to a slum-city high school where the coach has asked Finley (“White Rabbit”) to befriend him. Finley’s nickname comes from his being the only white kid on the basketball team, and although he obeys his coach, he has several problems being Russ’ best friend: Russ wants to be called “Boy 21” because he thinks he is an alien sent to observe the emotions of humans; they both play the same position with the same number (21); and Finley has an unspecified problem that keeps him from saying anything beyond the basics.
What do you do when you must compete against someone who is really nice and whom you really like? Why would the coach ask someone who cannot truly speak to be the friend of someone of a different race with a severe emotional problem?
Boy21 is an incredibly good book, not only for the central story but also for the characters: Finley’s girlfriend who is the best basketball player on the girl’s team, his grandfather who is legless and needs his support, his fellow team members in high school, his father, Russ’ grandparents, and the story of who was killed and why. There are multiple stories interwoven here, with the Irish mob and Black gang in the background. I recommend it highly.