Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin

It took me a while to get through this book, not because it wasn't good but because it was LONG. But I finished it today so here's my review.

The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin

Brian Hammett's life hasn't been the same since his girlfriend Amanda Daine was gunned down last summer along with her mother and little brother. Now Amanda's dad is on trial and Brian tries to put the whole thing out of his mind by focusing on his basketball game and leading his team, the Warriors, to a championship victory. However, Brian can't shake the nagging feeling he's had ever since he noticed a jogger in his cul-de-sac on the day of the morning. An intense school project and the unlawful arrest of his best friend keep Brian thinking about justice and what he can do personally to make sure that Amanda's murderer is caught.

This book is jam-packed with plot so it's hard to summarize it in one neat little paragraph. This is a suspense novel but it is so much more. It's also a sports novel, a psychological novel, sort of a romance novel, an adventure novel, a murder mystery, a law novel, a history novel... there are so many aspects to the story that it's no wonder the book spans over 300 pages.

The main character Brian is complex, instantly likeable, a real leader through and through, someone you can root for. His journey is wrapped up in the personal well-being of his teammates and even the entire town. He has a lot of responsibility and seeing him struggle with all that is demanded of him is the heart of the story.

Brian has to work on a history project with outsider Todd about Leo Frank, a man who was accused of murdering a 13 year old girl and charged guilty when he was actually innocent. It's a witchhunt of sorts that occurs in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913. This historical mystery runs in parallel to the Daine murder trial that is happening in the present. Alphin devotes a lot of time to explaining this case through the eyes of Brian and Todd, who have to tell the class what lessons we can learn from this moment in time. The Leo Frank case is the catalyst for Brian to re-examine his own role in finding Amanda's killer.

The characterization, the dialogue, the action is very realistic and enjoyable. The teammates, the school, parents and other authority figures are different, well-rounded and familiar in all the best ways. The basketball scenes are a highlight of this book, very cinematic and easy to understand for the sports-challenged but also vivid for those who are familiar with basketball. I just adored them, especially since the games matched the mental anguish that Brian is experiencing at the time.

There is a compelling sub-plot with Julius, Brian's best friend who is growing up a black man in a predominantly white neighborhood. He's arrested for no reason in some other white neighborhood and it really shakes him up. I think the author does a fine job exploring Julius' realization of the role race has in this world and also how his white classmates have trouble understanding his new attitude. It's very interesting to watch it play out.

Like I said before, the book is long. I feel like the beginning drags because it's basically a day by day look at Brian's life over several days and the reader is sort of beat over the head by the "perfect shot" theme of the book. Also, some of the discussions about Leo Frank get a little lengthy. It feels like scenes that the author wrote that are really great to read but in the end should have been left on the cutting room floor. However, by the middle of the book things are moving nicely and the end is just a speeding train. I think the book could have been paced more evenly but the extra stuff is not bad.

There's so much to talk about in this book I can barely put it all into words. What I can suggest is that you this book a try. I promise that most likely you'll be pleasantly surprised.


  1. Hi this is Lilly, I live in Iowa and I think this is really cool. But I have some questions that I really hope you will answer.You see I have lost this book and I really want to read it but even though I have searched the whole house I can not find it I read the first part but I am dying to know the end and that is when I lost it. So I have a few questions that I would really appreciate that you answer... Soon. First of all, who is the real killer?? And I know this is a lot to ask but If you could leave a comment on my blog ( and wright as best you can,a kinda summary of the stroy. Include every detail that you can remember! I would really appreciate it if you could do that by tommorrow at 6:30 at least. Thankyou so much and I look forward to reading a comment from a great writer like you.Remember, as many details as posible!! A hopful student,

  2. Hello , my name's aileene and i have a question . What's a symbol that can describe Todd ?

  3. Todd is a very mysterious character in this book. He stands out more in the middle and end of the book because he finds himself more comfortable about working on the history project with Brian. Also, he protrays his beleifs throughout the book to Brian, which partially has to do with the ending of the story. In other words, Todd is a very important character int his book! Read the book to figure out more about The Perfect Shot!

  4. Who is shooter in the book

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