By Matthew Quick
Little, Brown, and Company. 2012. 250 pgs. Teen fiction (I read the ARC)
Living in Bellmont, PA, where the Irish mob rules, Finley escapes from the hardships of life (which include a legless grandfather, a deceased mother, and a father stuck working a dead-end job) through two things: basketball and his girlfriend, Erin. The two of them train hard and Finley is looking forward to his third year as starting point guard when his coach asks for his help with a special project--a new basketball player. Russ has just moved to Bellmont from California, where, before his parents were murdered, he was best high school baller in the country. Now, however, he's obsessed with outer space, insisting his parents' spaceship will be picking him up soon, and answering only to Boy 21. Although not really sure what he can do, Finley does as his coach asks and befriends Boy 21, even though it means he's worried that if Russ snaps out of it, Finley could wind up on the bench.
Ahhhh (satisfied sigh). I'd heard good things about this book, and I'm glad for the chance to be able to read it for myself. I loved watching Finley, who is a completely nice guy, take Russ under his wing, and at the same time, figure out what's really important to him and learn how to stand up for himself. I feel like there's a lot of good fantasy out there with male protagonists, but not so much contemporary realistic fiction with male protagonists, so this is a welcome addition. I felt like the Irish mob element wasn't developed quite at much as it should have been (I guess I feel like they should've been more present throughout the book, especially given a couple of the twists later in the book), but overall, it was really enjoyable. Again, Finley was great--a nice guy you can't help but like--and I enjoyed getting to "know" him so to speak.
4 stars. Some language and making out.