But everything changes in seventh grade, starting with a new coach. He's impressed with Russell's height and tells him to try out for the team. To everyone's surprise, he makes the cut. Now Owen is struggling against jealousy, as Russell turns out to have some natural abilities. Russell is worried about losing his old friends and his Masters of the Mind team, but is finding out he enjoys basketball more than he expected. Can the brothers reconcile their differences and work together as a winning team, or will they lose on and off the court?
Now this is a book that takes a pretty basic plot, that's been done plenty of times, and turns it on its head in an awesome way. I loved that the author didn't descent into stereotypes, but kept the story realistic. Russell does have some amazing natural abilities, but he is also really bad at other parts of the game and needs to work hard to get into good physical condition. Owen doesn't suddenly turn out to have some amazing abilities elsewhere. It just so happens that Russell is good at academics and sports and Owen is really only good at sports. Owen isn't a very likable character; he's mean, overbearing, and selfish, but he's completely realistic in his behavior and the alternating viewpoints show how he got to the point of justifying the things he did, even when he knew they were wrong. Russell is a bit too good to believe sometimes, but he becomes a bit more human by the end.
Verdict: This is a book that will fly off the shelves; funny, realistic, school drama, sports, there's something for everyone. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to adding the sequel, Double Dribble, as well.
ISBN: 9781599909158; Published February 2013 by Bloomsbury; ARC provided by publisher; Added to the library's order list.