cover image The Twinning Project

The Twinning Project

Robert Lipsyte. Clarion, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-547-64571-1

Lipsyte (Center Field) departs from his usual sports themes, bringing a strong sense of character (if not plot) to science fiction in this tale of aliens, parallel worlds, and conspiracy theories. Seventh-grader Tom is an outcast and an outsider, getting expelled from school after school for fighting bullies. With Tom’s father having disappeared under mysterious circumstances, the boy’s only comfort comes from talking through his problems with his imaginary twin, Eddie, a jock who lives on a version of Earth 50 years behind Tom’s (Eddie is full of mid-century slang like “Later, alligator”). When the boys’ “grandfather” on both Earths reveals that the twin planets were created by alien scientists, the boys switch places to fight for the survival of both Earths. The plot occasionally gets convoluted, and Tom gets out of jams too often with gadgets of his own invention that feel out of place. But the relationship between the twins, as well as the strong supporting cast (notably Tom’s body-conscious outsider friend, Alessa, and a homeless runaway named Ronnie), are strong enough to carry the story. Ages 10–14. Agent: Jay Mandel, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)