Conversation. Josh tries to talk to JB and tell him about playing a pickup game at the rec center earlier. The older guys wouldn't let Josh play until he made a basket from half-court. JB doesn't respond as Josh talks on. Josh says that he scored fourteen points and was told to try out for junior varsity next year, and then asks JB if he's listening. Though JB nods, he continues to type on the computer. Josh figures he's chatting with Miss Sweet Tea. Josh knows that JB hears him, but he thinks that JB is just listening to "his heart bouncing on the court of love."
As JB becomes closer to Miss Sweet Tea, he also begins to move away from Josh. For Josh, this is offensive not just because JB is no longer interested in basketball; it represents a major shift in their sibling relationship. In particular, JB's disinterest in Josh's performance at the game earlier suggests that JB isn't as sold right now on Dad and Josh's idea of success, something that's hard for Josh to wrap his head around.
Conversation. Josh takes his problem to Dad and says that JB is acting weird: he's smiling, he gets spacey when Miss Sweet Tea is around, and he's stealing Dad's cologne and wearing loafers to school. Josh asks Dad to do something, but Dad just laughs. Dad says that talking to JB would be "like pushing water uphill with a rake." Unimpressed, Josh makes one more plea for help, but Dad insists that JB is a lost cause and suggests they get donuts.
When Dad demonstrates that he's not concerned about JB's changes, he tries to show Josh that these changes are normal and expected parts of adolescence. In other words, because Dad sees that his boys are growing up, this doesn't come as a shock--while for Josh, who's still very much a kid, this is unacceptable.
Basketball Rule #5. When a player stops playing their game, they've already lost the game.
This could refer to either Josh or JB: JB isn't playing with Josh the same way, while Josh is becoming more caught up in policing JB and is paying less attention to his own performance.
Showoff. Josh narrates another play-by-play. With six seconds to go, the Wildcats are up sixteen points. JB evades other players to make a shot. Josh calls JB a showoff.
This change in language (calling JB a showoff) shows that as Josh's attitude sours, his word choice reflects this and reveals his attitude towards his brother.
Out of Control. Dad yells at the ref that a kid on the other team was traveling (moving with the ball). Mom isn't at the game, so Dad spends his entire evening yelling at the officials.
Yelling at the ref is one way that Dad can continue to feel powerful and successful in a way related to basketball by demonstrating his expertise.
Mom calls me into the kitchen. After the game, Mom asks Josh to come into the kitchen. She normally does this to get Josh's opinion on whatever wonderful food she's made, but tonight, there's only a weird dip on the table surrounded by pita chips. Josh wonders if she's having a book club meeting as she asks Josh to sit down. Josh refuses to eat the pita and wonders if there's mac and cheese or fried chicken in the oven.
The insights that Josh gives into how his family usually eats shows that their meals of choice aren't ones that are especially friendly to someone with high blood pressure. When Josh wonders if there's something else in the oven, it shows that in every way, he's unwilling to accept change.
Mom fixes Josh with a look when he tries to leave the table and tells him about his grandfather. She says that he died of a stroke and had heart disease. Mom explains that the family has a history of heart problems, so they're going to start eating better. Josh is aghast that they have to start tonight, but Mom asks Josh to not let Dad take him to Pollard's or Krispy Kreme after their rec center outings. Josh understands what she's going for, but isn't convinced hummus is the best way to go about it.
By letting Josh in on her reasoning, Mom treats Josh like more of an adult and makes him partially responsible for how well the family eats. Josh's displeasure at this indicates again that he's not interested in change like this, especially in light of all the things that are changing now between him and JB.
35-18. The score of the Wildcats' first game is 35-18. A reporter from the paper asks JB and Josh how they got so good. Dad takes it upon himself to respond and says they learned from "Da Man." On the way home, Dad suggests they stop at Pollard's. Josh insists he has homework and isn't hungry. In truth, Josh skipped lunch earlier and finished his homework during halftime.
Too Good. Josh thinks that things are going great. He feels like he's winning in lots of places, and to make things even better Mom is away at a conference, which means that the assistant principal is gone as well. Josh is worried though and hears Coach's voice in his head saying that when a person gets used to things going well, they're less prepared when things go wrong.
Given the reader's view on Josh's life, it's clear that his perspective is somewhat warped to look at things more positively; in reality, he's jealous and Dad's health seems precarious, though it's admirable and mature that he recognizes the dangers of complacency.
I'm on Free Throw Number Twenty-Seven. Josh and JB take turns shooting free throws. JB has gotten twelve in a row so far, so Dad laughs and tells Josh to pay attention. Suddenly, a look of horror comes over Dad's face and he leans over. He coughs, but it makes no sound. Josh freezes while JB runs to Dad. When Josh suggests that Dad is overheating, JB grabs the hose and sprays Dad. Dad's coughing starts making noise. He stands, laughs, and grabs the hose to spray his sons. Josh laughs, but he doesn't feel happy.
Now that Josh has remembered Coach's warning about getting too comfortable to be prepared for bad things, things start to go downhill: though he never explains exactly what's ailing Dad here, it's likely related to his high blood pressure. This tells the reader that Dad is sicker than he's let on thus far, and that the boys don't yet understand this fact.
He probably. When Josh asks JB if he thinks Dad is sick, JB says that Dad probably just got something caught in his throat. Because of this, Josh thinks it's ironic then that JB picks up the phone, says hello, and throws the phone to him. He thinks that JB is speechless, as though there's something caught in his throat.
JB's reasoning suggests that he's not ready to consider the possibility that his dad is ill. This shows that he's maturing at different rates in different areas; while he's moving forward in romance, he's still insisting on childish innocence when it comes to Dad.
i-ron-ic. Ironic means having a strange or funny sequence of events that appear strange or funny because of coincidence. Josh says that it's ironic that Vondie's mom works for NASA, but Vondie hates astronomy. He says it's not ironic that his grandfather died in a hospital and now, Dad hates doctors. He also thinks that it's ironic that JB spends all his time showing off, but he's too shy to talk to Miss Sweet Tea.
Again, Josh's choice to integrate a vocabulary word into his narration shows how seriously he takes school and English class specifically. Then, when he uses un-ironic to describe his family's history with high blood pressure, it shows that he's putting the pieces together to be able to truly understand the contours of his family's history.
This Is Alexis--May I Please Speak to Jordan? As Josh accepts the phone, he tells the reader that identical twins are just like everyone else. Sometimes though, they can look and sound just like each other.
Phone Conversation (I Sub for JB). Josh tells Alexis that he's JB and then asks her about her sisters. She says that she's the youngest of three and seems shy when Josh says that she's also the prettiest. Alexis asks if JB got her text and if he has an answer yet. Josh awkwardly says he doesn't know, to which she tells him to stop being silly. Alexis asks about Dad and if the family is rich because he played in the NBA. Josh corrects her that Dad played in Italy and says they're not opulent. When Alexis points out that he never uses big words at school, Josh insists that's to keep up his reputation.
The fact that Josh taking the phone for JB even works at all speaks to the strength of the relationship the boys have. While this makes it more understandable why Josh feels threatened by Miss Sweet Tea's interest in JB, it's also telling that JB is willing to use his brother to get out of this difficult conversation. This suggests that JB's not taking into account how awkward or difficult this might be for Josh.
When Alexis asks when JB is going to introduce her to his parents and if she's his girlfriend, Josh covers the mouthpiece and asks JB what he's supposed to say. JB nervously says to say yes and then runs to the bathroom. Josh returns to Alexis's phone call and says that he likes her a lot, so they can be girlfriend and boyfriend. Alexis calls Josh/JB "Precious" and as Josh hangs up, he nearly calls her Miss Sweet Tea. JB runs out of the bathroom and asks what she said. When Josh says that Alexis said that she likes him a lot, JB corrects him that she likes JB a lot.
The conversation between Josh and JB at the end makes it very clear that Josh is jealous and has a crush on Miss Sweet Tea as well--but in this case, his twin relationship allows him to recover from this misstep without too much trouble. However, this also reminds Josh that right now, he's not the favorite twin, which likely contributes to his growing sense of inadequacy.
JB and I. Josh and JB usually eat lunch together every day. They argue about everything from basketball players to what brand of shoes is the best. Today, however, Josh sits alone at the lunch table. Vondie is home sick, so Josh feels very alone when he watches JB saunter into the cafeteria holding Miss Sweet Tea's hand.
Because Josh is a twin, he likely hasn’t spent much time alone at all. This forced solitude separates Josh from JB, as well as from his confidence, his friends, and his hope that Miss Sweet Tea might choose him.
Boy walks into a room. JB and Miss Sweet Tea walk over slowly. JB greets Josh by calling him Filthy McNasty, which he does all the time. This time, however, it sounds different. Both JB and Miss Sweet Tea snicker like they have an inside joke and "Filthy McNasty" is the punch line.
Laughing at Josh's nickname is a way for JB and Miss Sweet Tea to demonstrate their loyalty to each other. For Josh, however, it's even more hurtful than it might be otherwise since JB is showing him he's no longer loyal to his brother.
At practice. That afternoon, Coach tells the team that they need to work on their mental game. Essentially, if they think they can win, they will. Rather than running drills, Coach leads the team in meditation. As he meditates, Josh sees a picture of JB in the hospital in his head. He opens his eyes and turns around. JB is looking right at Josh as though he saw a ghost.
The vision of the ghost, and the fact that JB seems to have experienced a similar thing, shows that as difficult as things are for Josh right now, he and JB are still connected in this important brotherly way.
Second-Person. Josh walks home alone after practice, which feels strange since he usually walks with JB. He bounces his basketball and wonders what JB and Miss Sweet Tea are doing. Josh goes to the library to work on his report on The Giver, since JB has his copy of the book. He thinks it's unfair that JB is with Miss Sweet Tea instead of with him. He thinks that JB won't eat lunch with him ever again, and that JB is acting like he owns the world.
Though Josh's laments are certainly exaggerated, it's important to pay attention to the ways that his forced solitude is making him feel lonely, inadequate, and like he's not being treated fairly. This indicates that Josh relied heavily on JB's companionship, and his identity depended on that partnership to feel whole.
Third Wheel. Josh walks into the library. He wastes time by looking at music and magazines, and then he pretends to study. When he asks the librarian where he can find The Giver, she asks if he found his friend. Josh thinks it's weird but follows her directions to the second floor. He passes kids waiting in line to check Facebook and sees an old man reading The Tipping Point in the biography section. Finally, he gets to the Teen Fiction section and finds The Giver. As Josh pulls out the book, he sees Miss Sweet Tea and JB kissing and understands what the librarian was talking about.
The librarian was referring to having seen JB earlier. When she asks Josh a question intended for JB, it shows again that Josh suffered a major loss in identity when he had to get his locks cut off. The mix-up hurts even more than it might have otherwise since in Josh's eyes, JB is currently on top of the world: he's happy, he has a girlfriend, and he's presumably still doing well on the court.
tip-ping point. The tipping point is the point at which something shifts into an entirely different position. According to Dad, the tipping point of the U.S. economy was greedy bankers and housing gamblers. Josh is also afraid that Mom will reach her tipping point and ban basketball if he and JB get Cs on their report cards. Josh says that today, at the library, he found his tipping point.
Again, it's telling that the tipping point for Josh is being mistaken for his happy and partnered brother. This shows that being happy and partnered are things that Josh desperately desires, and that watching JB experience those states is especially galling.
The main reason I can't sleep. Josh can't sleep. Though he's worried about the game tomorrow, concerned about Dad, and hates how his hair feels, he can't sleep mostly because JB is on the phone with Miss Sweet Tea. They giggle and Josh listens to JB tell Miss Sweet Tea that she's the apple of his eye. Josh is exasperated. He tells the reader that he's hungry and wishes he had his own apple.
Not having a girlfriend forces Josh to recognize that he's not as mature as JB is, since he's not yet met this milestone. This shows that though Josh says things that suggest he's clinging to childhood, he does actually want to grow up.
Surprised. Josh has a plan: he's going to talk to JB about how he's spending all his time with Alexis and ignoring him and Dad. However, Josh's plan is thwarted when he hears a car horn, looks outside, and sees JB jumping into Miss Sweet Tea's dad's car.
Josh's plan is relatively mature, given that he wants to use his words and lay out his case in unemotional terms. However, this also suggests that Josh believes he'll actually be able to change his brother, something that's childishly naïve.
Conversation. While Dad drives Josh to the game, Josh asks if going to the doctor will kill Dad. Dad says he just doesn't trust them. Josh’s grandfather trusted doctors and ended up dead at age 45. When Josh points out that, according to Mom, his grandfather was really sick, Dad rolls his eyes. Josh tells Dad that just because a teammate gets fouled, that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying to get to the basket. Dad laughs so loudly he almost misses the police lights behind them.
When Josh is able to use what's presumably some of Dad's own basketball wisdom and turn it around on Dad, it shows that Josh is indeed growing up and becoming more mature. It's telling that he's encouraging Dad to go to the doctor, as that suggests that Josh recognizes that caring for one's health is extremely important, and that doctors are an important element in that pursuit.
Game Time: 6:00 p.m. Just before 5:30, a police officer pulls Dad over because he has a broken taillight. A minute later, the officer asks Dad for his license and registration. A few minutes after that, the team begins their warm-ups without Josh in preparation for the game. Dad tells the officer that his license is at home in his jacket pocket. Dad finally gives the officer his name and explains that he's driving his son to the basketball game. Josh prays that Dad isn't going to get arrested, knowing that at the exact same moment, Coach is leading the team in a prayer. The cop verifies Dad's identity on Google, asks for an autograph on a Krispy Kreme napkin, and gives Dad a warning. Josh gets to the game at 6:01 but as he's running into the gym, he falls in the mud.
Josh's fears in this scene allude to the dangers of being black in America. Though this concern isn't something that occupies much of Josh's brain, given what he tells the reader about, this does show that he's aware that as a young black man, he's uniquely disadvantaged and at risk in society. This helps to ground the book in a contemporary setting and also makes some allusions to the other cultural texts Josh is engaging with, such as current civil rights questions and music that deals with police brutality.
This is my second year. Josh tells the reader that in the two years he's played for the Wildcats, he's started every game. Tonight, however, Coach tells Josh to clean up and then sit on the bench. He doesn't want to listen to Josh's excuses that Dad got pulled over and instead, tells him that being early is always better than being a little bit late. JB and the rest of the team point and laugh at Josh.
The team's behavior only intensifies Josh's feelings of loneliness, as it suggests that like Coach, they're also unwilling to listen empathetically and take Josh's concerns seriously.
Basketball Rule #6. Josh explains that for a team to be truly great, they need both a good scorer and another teammate who's always ready to help out.
This rule drives home the importance of teamwork and trust, as both are necessary for success on the court.
Josh's Play-by-Play. By the beginning of the second half, the Wildcats are up, 23-12. Josh is thrilled to get to play, as he knows that when he and JB are both on the court the team is unstoppable. JB, Josh, and Vondie move the ball up the court. JB passes to Josh, who's in the corner. Two players from the other team are in front of Josh. Josh sees that JB is free and thinks of Dad's assessment that if JB is open, he can be trusted to earn points. Josh, however, has his own ideas.
While the beginning of Josh's play-by-play demonstrates that he's still playing as part of the team and celebrates his teammates' strengths, his jealousy starts to come through in the end. By ignoring what he knows about how to use his team and JB specifically to do what's best for the team, Josh shows that what he craves in this moment is solo recognition.
The other two players stick close to Josh. He decides to try to dunk until he realizes his locks are gone. Coach, Dad, and the crowd all scream for Josh to pass the ball. JB is still open. Josh dribbles out of the corner and decides that if JB wants the ball that bad, he can have it.
Before. Josh says that earlier, he walked into the gym covered in mud. JB screamed "FILTHY'S McNasty," and everyone, even Coach, laughed at him. Then, Josh had to sit out for the entire first half, watch JB shine, and listen to the crowd cheer for his brother. He saw JB wink at Miss Sweet Tea after a free throw. Finally, during the second half, things started to go according to plan: JB set Josh up for success but rather than pass, Josh tried to work alone. He then decided to pass to JB. Josh's pass was so fast and strong, it knocked JB over and made his nose bleed.
For Josh, having to hear the crowd cheer for JB was likely even more insulting because even though JB is spending so much of his time with Miss Sweet Tea, he still manages to be a star. This suggests that JB may have more natural aptitude than Josh does, but he's somewhat less inclined to practice and hone his skills.