Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

StealingParkerTitle: Stealing Parker

Author: Miranda Kenneally (Catching Jordan)

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 242

Rating: 4.5/5

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?

So far this is my favorite Miranda Kenneally book, and I’m only halfway through her published books.

Anyway, why is this book my favorite? For one thing, I like Parker way more than I ever liked Jordan. At the very beginning I was kind of worried, especially since the same girl from Catching Jordan gets shamed in general, both for flirting with guys and for not being very intelligent, which really bothered me (especially since she was never a big part of the story nor her character expanded upon), but the more I read, the more I liked Parker. She just seemed less judgmental and frustrating than Jordan did, and as a result I was more interested in her story. In Catching Jordan, I often felt sorry for Jordan in spite of Jordan, but with Parker, I felt sorry for her not just because of some of the plot points, but because I really cared about Jordan as a character.

I was definitely intrigued by the romance mentioned in the summary above. A possible student-teacher (well, coach) relationship would definitely be interesting, especially to see how Kenneally would handle it. Would it be romanticized, so that it seemed less bad simply because the guy was hot and Parker was already damaged? Would it be over-the-top dramatic and seem unlikely for both the characters and the story? Would I cheer them on while kind of hating myself or would I be opposed from it from the very beginning? Overall, I think it was handled fairly well. Without being too spoiler-y, it was built up slowly and ran a course that made sense both based on the characters and the story. I don’t think I was ever really supporting it, but I was pretty much always interested to see where it would go and I wasn’t dreading every single scene they had together.

There’s more romance, though, and that’s what I was really interested in. I’m not going to mention who the other love interest is, although you’ll probably figure out fairly early on in the book, especially based on various parallels it shares with Catching Jordan. At first, I thought the love interest – before I knew he was going to be the love interest – was going to be a jerk who would cause problems later on, but he seemed to do a slight 180 at some point (or I was being too judgmental of him at the beginning, which is unfortunately a problem for me no matter how many times I get mad at judgmental protagonists) and then he was a pretty sweet guy who I enjoyed getting to know right along with Parker.

There was also a religious aspect to this story that I wasn’t expecting at all. In my string of kind-of-religious books that I also read in January, this was the one that seemed to focus on it the least, but I think that fit with the story completely. If you read the summary, you’ll know that there’s a scandal involving her mother, and Parker later begins hooking up (well, she really just makes out, but not every knows that and plenty of people think that she went farther) with many different boys. Not too surprisingly, many people at their Christian church aren’t too happy with that, and are very judgmental. Most of the teenagers at her church are the worst, but there are plenty of adults who should know better but are just as nasty, whether they do it subtly or not. There were times I was definitely mad at the way these characters treated Parker, but I was kind of happy that it was included at all, and that Parker was mostly questioning her faith and church rather than saying “Screw this, I hate all religion now.” That’s what I wanted from “religious” books – characters that actually think about faith and religion and stuff, whether they decide to keep believing or not.

I think another point of favour for this book is simply because I like the sport better than the one in Catching Jordan. I’m not a football person at all, but I played softball for two years when I was younger and have always liked watching it and baseball. Therefore, I was able to better relate to the way Parker might feel about the game, especially when she was struggling with whether she wanted to come back to it or not.

Looking back, there was one part where I had a slight issue – the summary makes it sound like we’ll get to see a bit of normal, old Parker before the scandal “rocks her world” or whatever, but that isn’t the case. We only really know the “new” Parker, the one who helps out with the baseball team and makes out with various guys and begrudgingly goes to church because it’s what her father wants. I wish I had had a chance to really see her before, so that the new Parker would have even more of an emotional impact.

Overall, though, I was definitely a fan of this book. It had an interesting look at sexuality – not just involving a student-coach relationship, but budding sexuality and a sex life in general – as well as religious questions and concerns. The romance (the real one, in my opinion) was pretty adorable at times, and Parker was pretty much always an interesting character to me. So far, this is hands down my favorite book from Kenneally.

And, wow, I hadn’t realized how much I had written until I was wrapping it up. If you managed to read that all, then bravo and thank you! If not, then this is me hitting you with a copy of Stealing Parker in order to see the errors of your ways (of course, since you didn’t read this far, you won’t even realize it, so I guess it’s a lost cause).

4.5stars

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