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The Perfect Shot

The Perfect Shot

4.2 10
by Elaine Marie Alphin

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Someone has murdered Brian's girlfriend, Amanda. The police think it was her father. Brian isn't so sure. But everyone he knows is telling him to move on, get over it, focus on the present. Focus on basketball. Focus on hitting that perfect shot.

Brian hopes that the system will work for Amanda and her father. An innocent man couldn't be wrongly convicted, could he


Someone has murdered Brian's girlfriend, Amanda. The police think it was her father. Brian isn't so sure. But everyone he knows is telling him to move on, get over it, focus on the present. Focus on basketball. Focus on hitting that perfect shot.

Brian hopes that the system will work for Amanda and her father. An innocent man couldn't be wrongly convicted, could he? But then Brian does a school project on Leo Frank, a Jewish man lynched decades ago for the murder of a teenage girl—a murder he didn't commit.

Worse still, Brian's teammate Julius gets arrested for nothing more than being a black kid in the wrong place at the wrong time. Brian can't deny any longer that the system is flawed. As Amanda's father goes on trial, Brian admits to himself that he knows something that could break the case. But if he comes forward, will the real killer try for another perfect shot—this time against Brian?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The novel opens with the murder of Amanda, her little brother and her mother. It was a day when Brian Hammett and his friends were playing basketball next door. In the heat of the game, Brian brushed aside Amanda, planning on spending time with her later when all the guys weren't there. The next spring, Brian is dealing with her death, with his guilt, and with a nagging feeling that maybe he had seen something significant on that afternoon. In this cleverly organized narrative, we come to care about Brian as he struggles with making sense of a senseless murder. Through a school project, Brian and his partner Todd confront the prejudice that led to the sensational 1913 trial and murder of Leo Frank. The details of that trial and the bias against the testimony of a young eyewitness are replayed through Brian's memory of the day Amanda was shot and the trial of Amanda's father, accused of the crime. Interwoven with Brian's quest for justice is the story of Julius Malik, an African American star of the basketball team who was with Brian playing ball that afternoon. The interweaving of history, of Brian's determination, and of Julius' confrontation with prejudice make for a compelling look at what it takes to stand up to the larger injustices of the world and why we sometimes don't. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Lerner, Carolrhoda Books, 212p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
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 Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
High-school basketball star Brian loves Amanda, his neighbor and sweetheart. When she and her family are murdered and police accuse her father of the crime, Brian retreats; he can't cope. He saw a mysterious jogger run by at the time of the murders, but his Dad says not to get involved. At school, he's given an assignment to investigate the Leo Frank case from 1913 Atlanta. Brian learns that a young witness saw the real murderer, but kept silent for decades, afraid to speak out. Will Brian make the same mistake? Adding to the suspense, early in the story readers learn that Brain has been shot, and appears to be dying. The story is then told in flashbacks, as his life passes before him. With basketball action, a murder mystery, a compelling story from history, adolescent angst, racial and parental tension, Alphin offers something to please most young readers. (Fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.72(w) x 8.28(h) x 1.32(d)
990L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Since her first novel for young readers appeared in 1991, Elaine Marie Alphin has published 27 books for young people and one for adults (about writing for young people). Elaine writes for readers of all ages, from Davy Crockett in Lerner's History Makers series for beginning readers up through teenage mysteries such as Counterfeit Son, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult mystery. Elaine particularly loves research, and that love impacts on all of her writing, from biographies for middle grade readers like I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight: A Story About John Paul Jones in the Creative Minds series through young adult fiction such as the history-inspired mystery, The Perfect Shot to her newest book, the stand-alone nonfiction young adult book An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank. Elaine is currently at work on a new young adult novel.

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Perfect Shot 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So awsome loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book and fell in love with it.. It had everything in a book i wanted.. I would read this book a second time just for the fun of it.
Jenna Strable More than 1 year ago
Jpell More than 1 year ago
hard to follow and its so confusing story line is crap also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Theresa879 More than 1 year ago
I read this book two years ago when I was in sixth grade. I've read MANY books since I read this one and it has remained my favorite book. The characters and plot are believable and realistic. It's a great book for free reading or discussions. As a matter of fact, I asked my school to put it on the reading list for eigth grade because, I would say, that it is higher level. I would tell anyone, male or female, to read this book. Especially if they are in eigth grade or above.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is all flashbacks that show great emotional stress. The Perfect Shot is an amazingly written mystery having a bit of well... everything. There is the emotional stress someone goes over when someone dies, the dedication of young athletes, and a mystery that is started with a history project. Teens 8th grade and up will definitely enjoy this book since the author is able to capture everything that happens in a high schooler¿s life in 350 so pages. Overall a well written book and an amazing fun read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recomend this book for teens ages eighth grade and above. The story is very suspensful and the basketball sections are cool. The story is told in flashbacks which is communicated to us at the begining of the book. Brian, captain of his high-school basketball team, lives in a kind of suburb of a big city he seems to live in a culdisac. He lives across the street from his girlfriend's, Amanda, house. One morning, while Brian is playing basketball, Amanda and her little brother Cory come over asking if they can play football. Brian says no and Amanda says that she is having family problems and does not want to go to the neighborhood pool with her mother. Brian still says no, so, Amanda is mad. When Amanda comes home, she finds a strange person in the garage, holding her mother by the neck. She hears a gunshot, then two more, but doesn't hear the last one. In Brian's driveway, he sees a mysterious jogger. I don't want to tell you anymore, so you just have to read the book! This book was really exceptional!