Brothers on Three
A True Story of Family, Resistance, and Hope on a Reservation in Montana
Celadon Books, September 2021
Mr. Streep came to Montana for the purpose of writing an article featuring the phenomenal Arlee Warriors. The story, though, is much bigger than the fierce high-school basketball team. It is really about the community. Life on the reservation, unfathomable denials of further education opportunities for Natives, blatant racist actions and slurs and how none of this is unique to this particular reservation.
In Mr. Streep’s immersion, (understandably not invited to wakes or horn hunting), he was given enough access to show the readers the academic hurdles that must be cleared, as well as the importance of confirming eligibility, for a high-school student to have a shot at college. Hard work can get us where we want to be, but sometimes, success can change us. Even when we’re old enough to know better. Adults with the best intentions can get caught up in the hype, erroneously putting themselves in front of the students that deserve undivided attention.
To me, these are the students that sincerely see the value in further education. Not in a ‘can’t wait to get outta here’ way, but more of ‘what can I study and learn about to help improve our lives on the reservations’. They’re already hard workers and by graduation, most of these kids have had to deal with more losses than I can even imagine.
What I know about basketball wouldn’t fill a thimble, but I do understand statistics and it seems inarguable that some of the Arlee players possessed something special. I believe their fans referred to it as “heart. The lives they’ve led thus far created strong characteristics that carry onto the court.
I could not get through this book without seeing similarities between the basketball team and so many of the students I’ve had the unparalleled pleasure of meeting. The maturity level is awe-inspiring and eye-opening. So many teens handle serious responsibilities in their home, often helping younger siblings, or cousins, nephews, nieces and neighbors with homework, supervising their free time and even preparing meals.
Generally speaking, when I’ve finished a non-fiction book, I am mentally sated. Brothers on Three, however, has me wanting more. I need to see highlights of these boys tearing up the court, making their opponents look foolish. I want to see the videos made for the Warrior Movement and most of all, I want to know that Will, Phil, Greg and their teammates are in a good place.
So, before I take this fascinating book to “my” students, I’m going to do a bit of looking online to see if I can’t supplement my Book Talk with some pictures or maybe a video clip.
This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books, with a
huge “Thank You!” to Celadon Books for the Advance Review Copy, which
I will donate to my favorite high-school classroom library.
Reviewed by jv poore, January 2022.