cover image The Perfect Shot

The Perfect Shot

Elaine Marie Alphin, Author . Lerner/Carolrhoda $16.95 (360p)

Alphin (Picture Perfect ) scores big with this novel starring the captain of a high school basketball team. The author explores themes of justice and an individual's civic and personal responsibility to see that justice is carried out. When Brian's neighbor Amanda, his childhood friend and sweetheart, is murdered, he lives life in a fog for months, distracted and disengaged, finding solace only while shooting hoops in his driveway or on the court. He remembers seeing a jogger in the neighborhood on the day of the murder but isn't sure it's relevant. Then at school, a history assignment lands him with an intriguing partner, and a project that has special relevance to his situation—the conviction of Leo Frank for the murder of a factory girl in 1913 Atlanta. The assignment becomes even more pertinent to Brian when Amanda's father is charged with the murder of his wife and two children, and Brian realizes that his encounter with the stranger may have relevance after all—and that there are parallels between the Frank case and what transpires in his small Indiana town. The plot grows somewhat overcomplicated, with themes of stereotyping and racial profiling when one of Brian's African-American teammates is arrested on an unrelated trumped-up charge. But there is lots of action, both in the basketball games and in the classroom projects. And the author's portrayal of Brian's slow awakening to a sense of personal integrity and responsibility—even at great personal cost—is convincing, and may well get readers thinking. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)