Jane’s Boekentips

Before you read the book review, I just want to say one of best things about living in the Netherlands at this time, is that the world in on my laptop. I can watch the news from America and feel connected to friends and even citizens I don’t even know. I have been watching the horrible news about the tornados that have torn through many states. So many lives have been lost and altered because of the weather and it certainly makes you feel helpless. You cannot stop a tornado or hurricane. I just want to say that I feel for all the people impacted by the storms and I guess this is my moment to feel helpless.

BOY21 by Matthew Quick

When I was a teenager I used the school library all the time. In middle school, I discovered fiction that was written in the 1950’s (I was reading them in the 1970’s) and I fell in love with books written by Betty Cavanna, Rosamund Dujardin and Lenora Mattingly Weber. No one had any real problems in these stories, the biggest challenges were finding the right sweater to match the skirt and staying away from bad boys who wore blue jeans. What I realized was that the fiction that was written in the 1950’s and even later on, were not very reflective of a young person’s life. There was very little talk about divorce, drugs, drinking, financial troubles, etc. As much as I enjoyed these “safe” books, I was looking for books that let me know that I was not alone. That there were people like me out in the world. I didn’t find those books until I became a children’s librarian and I was happy to pass them on to readers.

The good news is that there are some fantastic books for young adults that are not patronizing or preachy. That have honest voices of young people and they have real life problems. The even better news is that these novels are really well written. Today’s authors of young adult fiction are fabulous because they tell authentic stories. One of my favorite writers is Matthew Quick because not only is he a good writer, but he writes truthfully and with a lot of heart.

His new novel, BOY21, is not only a compelling story, but it has interesting characters that you will have trouble forgetting. Finley is in high school, he loves basketball and he loves playing on his high school team. He is the only white player on the team and he is known as “White Rabbit”. Into his already complicated life comes someone that he is forced to be friends with—Russell is also a basketball player who is possibly one of the best in the country. But he has experienced a horrible tragedy and he has decided he wants to be called Boy21. Finley has secrets that run through this story and his friendship with Boy21 allows all things to be revealed.

This book is a very fast read as you cannot wait to turn the page. Quick has created memorable characters and scenes that will stay with you long after you have closed the book. This is what young adult fiction is all about…writing about realistic situations with true characters.

I encourage you to read Quick’s two previous books. His first novel for adults, THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, is currently being made into a feature film. And his first young adult novel was SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR, a book that you will embrace. You do not need to be a teenager to enjoy young adult literature! A good book is a good book, no matter who the intended audience is.

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  • Aledys Ver  On March 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I’m so very sorry for all those people who have lost dear ones in the recent tornados in the US. One feels indeed very helpless at such times…

    This recommendation sounds really interesting; the story of these two characters sounds like one that could appeal to all readers, actually!

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