Seventh-grade fraternal twins Russ and Owen (Athlete vs. Mathlete, 2013) return for a second outing, once again exploring in alternating first-person voices the differences between brothers as filtered through their basketball experiences.
Russ, the brainiac, and Owen, his athletically focused twin, are now getting along better, both doing their parts to make sure their basketball team has a winning season. Things are going well until the coach invites a pair of newcomers, identical twins Marcus and Mitch, to join the team midseason. These twins dress and act alike and have little interest in making friends outside their comfortable but seriously limiting brotherly relationship. Worse, they’re gifted athletically and academically, creating competition with both Russ and Owen, and the coach is giving them plenty of court time, which leaves Owen feeling especially jealous and very resentful. Remarkably, he even contemplates hurting one of the twins to save his place on the team. It takes an accidental injury that sidelines Marcus to expose the weaknesses the identical duo share and quite a lot of prompting from the more mature Russ and other teammates to get Owen to put the team’s needs before his own feelings. Once that’s accomplished, a too-easy resolution neatly wraps up the conflict.
Although hardly an insightful examination of brotherly problems, ample basketball play-by-play makes this a more attractive offering for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 10-14)