Saturday, August 2, 2014

Review - Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Title:  Stealing Parker
Series: Hundred Oaks #2
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 242
Goodreads Rating: 3.88/5 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
My Content Rating: Mature YA (Sexual activity, not explicit, but described; Some language)

Summary from Goodreads: Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

I'm pretty much reading this series all in a row (with an occasional book in between) so that I can get to Breathe, Annie, Breathe. These books are all quick and easy reads and I'm really enjoying getting to know the kids of Hundred Oaks!

Parker doesn't have a lot of girlfriends - she's pretty much shut people out because most of her friends shunned her after her mom announced that she was gay and left their family for a woman. She now pretty much sticks to her best (guy) friend Drew. She's even given up on softball because it's something she shared with her mom and she just can't face her teammates anymore. Parker feels like she has to prove that she's not like her mom, so she makes out with as many guys as she can, but she doesn't feel anything for any of them. Until she meets the new boys' baseball coach.

What I loved:
  • Parker.  I loved Parker's struggle with her own identity - who she was and who others perceived her to be. Parker was messed up in a lot of ways and didn't always make the best decisions, but I could understand why she acted the way she did based on her past experiences. She was soul searching - not always in the healthiest of ways. I enjoyed her journey. One of Parker's best qualities is her fierce loyalty to her friends - this loyalty sometimes caused her pain, but she never wavered, nonetheless!
  • Drew and Will.  While Parker didn't have any friends who were girls, she did have Drew, her best friend, who stuck by her no matter what. She also developed a friendship throughout the book with her one-time rival, Will (who everyone called Corndog). These relationships were the best part of the book!
  • Handling of religion.  I really liked the way that Kenneally handled the religious issues in this book. The book definitely addressed religion without getting preachy. While I didn't love that so many people at Parker's church judged her family because of her mother's sexuality, the reality is that homosexuality is a hot button issue for many Christians and there are plenty of people (especially in a small town environment) who would react just this way. I was thankful that Kenneally also gave us more open-minded Christian characters as well, though. She showed both sides of the story, which I appreciated. Parker learned a lot about herself and her relationship with God throughout the book, which I loved!
  • Realistic portrayal of student/teacher relationship. Kenneally handles the issue of a student/teacher affair a bit differently than I've seen in other books. I don't want to give too much away, but I felt like the real issues that would come up due to age difference and the fact that they are at different places in their lives were actually explored in a realistic way. At the same time, this did lead to my negative ...
The negatives:
  • Aspects of the romance.  While I appreciated the fact that the student/teacher relationship was handled realistically, there were some moments between them that just made me uncomfortable because they felt kind of ... wrong. Not merely because of the fact that they were student and teacher, but because of the characters' own obvious discomfort with the situation. Like Catching Jordan, this book made me nervous at times that the romance was heading in a bad direction. Still, just like in the first book in the series, Kenneally does redeem things in the end.
    So, overall, this was another successful trip to Hundred Oaks! I'm really enjoying this series! I give Stealing Parker 4/5 Stars.

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    About the Author
    Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

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