Boy21 by Matthew Quick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Boy21" (aka "Russell") and Finley (aka "White Rabbit") are in some ways mirror images of each other: they stand out at their schools and on their basketball teams, basketball is their lives, and they share a loss. When Boy21 moves to Finley's town and Coach asks Finley to befriend the new student, little to they expect to become friends.
Loss - tragic loss - can lead people to shut down in different ways; they can retreat from reality, they can channel their energies into other paths, and they can try to blend in with the background. These two boys explore all those coping mechanisms, and by the end of the book it's clear that there has been some healing.
This will appeal to boys, particularly those who feel they don't fit in or who have some personal problem or loss. The focus Finley and Russell put on basketball is also appealing, as is the fact that they are not in a privileged suburb or school. It surprised me to learn that this was set in Pennsylvania, near to Philadelphia, rather than near Boston, but I suppose "Bellmont"s exist all over the country.
ARC provided by publisher.