The Perfect Shot
by Elaine Alphin
School Library Journal
Starred Review. Gr 9 Up–This engrossing thriller weaves issues of civil rights, racial prejudice, the judicial system, and the lessons of history into a suspenseful tale of a high-school senior who wants to do the right thing. Brian's girlfriend, Amanda; her sister; and their mother are shot to death in their garage. The girls' father is put on trial for the crime. On the day of the murders, however, Brian saw something that he thinks might affect the case. The story is told in flashbacks as he struggles for his life after being shot–as readers will suspect–by the true killer. What might have been a straightforward mystery grows richer as Brian compares Amanda's father's situation to the 1913 Leo Frank murder case he is researching for class. Another thread follows the arrest of Brian's friend and basketball teammate Julius, one of the few African Americans in their small Indiana town. Brian must also cope with pressure from his father to excel in basketball, and with his overwhelming grief over Amanda's death. Some of the insights about the flaws in our justice system come across as preachy, but Brian's personal dilemma–should he speak out and make waves or keep his doubts to himself–prevent the story from turning into a lesson on social justice. This novel will resonate with readers long after the final page. Sports fans will also enjoy the action-packed games as Brian attempts to lead his team to victory.–Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library
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