Political races can get ugly—particularly when they’re family matters.
Class president Claudia Tapper’s smug expectations of an easy re-election for second semester take a major hit when her slacker twin, Reese, enters the race. Being clueless but better liked than his driven, humorless sib in their moderately diverse Manhattan private school, Reese mounts a serious challenge. In no time the rival campaigns have devolved into hot messes of negative spin, straw polls, secret deals, and (perceived) betrayals, with an added element of chaos introduced by a wacko third-party candidate. As in previous Tapper twin brangles, the narrative is framed as a typescript “oral history” by Claudia with interjections from everyone involved, plus frequent “Clickchat” entries, texts from hacked parental phones, screenshots, posters, snapshots of New York City hangouts, and school newspaper articles. Typically, Claudia turns out to be her own worst enemy, but she redeems herself with a last-minute online manifesto that shows she’s not just in it for ego and some determined fence-mending with alienated friends. Though a post-vote revelation that the election was thrown puts a cynical edge on the whole process, Rodkey’s comical picture of the political arena’s cut and thrust is certainly timely.
The absence of malign characters or motives keeps the tone light, and the parallels with campaigns on broader stages will be obvious to all. (Fiction. 11-13)