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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Best Shot Forward by Gregory Saur is a coming-of-age sports fiction novel that follows a group of kids at Washington Middle School and their lives, which revolve almost entirely around basketball. Two students, in particular, are central characters and the protagonists of Saur's story; seventh-grade introvert Jared Cook and the newest recruit transferring from his former school, Will Moore. The prevalence of basketball, the team, and cheerleaders all shine a spotlight on the team's wins and losses. Unfortunately, some of the light's glare singles out students to the eyes of a hunter, a nefarious individual who has their own sinister plans. As the season progresses so too does the danger and the kids face losses that extend far beyond a basketball scoreboard.
Best Shot Forward mixes the best of youth sports with the tension of an incredible mystery. Gregory Saur does well in developing young characters with all of the social angst attributed to the years between elementary and high school, awkward and confusing as boys and girls sit on the cusp of becoming men and women. The focus on competitive sports at a time when little more matters than the lead-up to games is an excellent foundation for its plot to grow from. The descriptions are vivid with regard to the games themselves and the emotions behind them, enhanced by multiple points of view that even include the primary antagonist whose motives wreak havoc on their lives. As the story intensifies, there is a dramatic incident where the kids are faced with an almost impossible situation of survival, the underlying theme of teamwork reaching its apex, and a twist that is wonderfully satisfying.