REVIEW: ‘Brothers On Three’ tells true story of hope, family and adolescence on a Montana reservation


Graphic Katherine Wu

Staff Writer Satoshi Conway writes that “Brothers on Three” by Abe Streep tells an inspiring true story.

Satoshi Conway, Staff Writer

Set in 2016, Abe Streep’s non-fiction book “Brothers on Three” conveys the fascinating journey where a group of high school boys living on a Native American reservation play basketball not just to win, but for a bigger cause. 

Following the Arlee Warriors’ historic season, the book includes both details about basketball along with challenges Native Americans face on the Flathead Indian Reservation. In this book, the two starters, Phil Malatare and Will Mesteth, go from high school basketball legends to local heroes as they play basketball to raise awareness for suicide.

Throughout the story, several of the adolescent basketball players face difficulties such as racism from opposing teams, the pressures of growing up and the possibility of their futures. Navigating these difficulties leads to struggles that the players face. For example, after making a bad pass that cost his team an important game, Phil fell into a downward spiral that left him trapped in his room for weeks questioning his entire life.

With several engaging interviews and anecdotes that convey life on a modern-day Native American reservation, Streep masterfully crafts a story that accurately depicts the struggles many Native Americans face. As a former writer for the New York Times, Streep is excellent at providing voices to the unheard. Before publishing “Brothers on Three,” Streep primarily based his works on underrepresented communities.

This book has received well-deserved recognition from critics and readers alike. Having only been published about a year ago, on September 7, 2021, it already earned notable awards such as the “Spur Award Nominee for Western Contemporary Nonfiction (2022).”

Although the novel is very detailed and focuses solely on basketball in the early portion, the powerful message sneaks itself in later. This book is perfect for the young adult reading level; it has the right mix of entertainment and advocacy for a cause. 

“Brothers on Three” is not a cliché book about high school basketball, but rather an expertly-crafted book about community and how teammates become “family.” It will leave you enthusiastic about this legendary basketball team.