Times Squared

Times Squared

“It was bad enough having a twin with an identical face. Couldn’t I at least have my own ringtone?” Not so much—if you are Payton and your twin sister, Emma, is a know-it-all mathlete who doesn’t have a social clue! The girls are back at school, and this time they have promised not to trade places again since their last fiasco “flip-flop twin-swap” in Take Two resulted in community service and public humiliation in the form of a school video podcast exposé. Not the best way to make a good impression at middle school. So Payton is focusing on performing with the Drama Club and Emma has been hitting the books hard in preparation for the Mathletes upcoming competition.

Teachers and students still get Payton and Emma Mills confused, but that’s all about to change, because—gasp—both the Drama Geckos and the Mathletes are going on a road trip to New York City! The Drama Club, headed by no-nonsense Mrs. Burkle, has been invited to attend an off-Broadway show directed by Mrs. B.’s former college roommate who is now a director, and the Mathletes are headed to N.Y.C. anyhow to compete in the Mathletes Regional Competition, so…guess who’s off to the Big Apple? The girls and their friends are beside themselves with excitement. As if that weren’t enough, Mathlete Ox (Emma’s crush) and Drama Gecko Nick (Payton’s crush) will be going on the trip too. Will romance take a bow in this production?

As Emma stresses over cramming for the Mathletes competition, she finds more to be stressed out over: her frenemy Jazmine’s mother is going to be one of the chaperones. Aargh! This lady doesn’t miss an opportunity to showcase Jazmine’s superior computational abilities over Emma’s, so Emma is struggling with self-confidence. Payton and Nick are starting to see each other in a new light, but a minor twin-switch leads to rumors that Nick and Emma are a pair. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, Payton discovers that Ashlynn, the fashionista for whom she “summer slaved” last summer in order to get the girl’s cast-off fashionable clothing, is a star in the off-Broadway production the group will attend. Will she remember Payton and the summer of servitude? Add Ashlynn’s trio of perky Pomeranians into the mix, returning twin annoyances Mason and Jason and their mascot Gecko and anything can—and will—happen!

This fun, light-hearted read is a page-turner that middle reader girls will not only enjoy and laugh out-loud over but will also take to heart. Authors Julia DeVillers and Jennifer Roy are real-life twins, so they know their subject. The chapters alternate between Payton and Emma, so the reader really gets to know each girl. Each author writes a particular character, so the girls stand as distinct and clearly recognizable individuals, which is what they really want in life—for each to be seen for who she is, math geek or drama queen. Although the characters are middle schoolers, there is nothing objectionable here that younger girls who are media savvy can’t read about and appreciate. The heartwarming ending brings the sisters closer than ever and hints that more “twin-tastic” adventures may be coming our way.

Recommended by Shari Shaw, B.A., M.L.I.S., Librarian

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