Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Stealing Parker

Stealing Parker
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Published: October 1st, 2012
Paperback, 242 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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?

Parker quickly became one of my favourite Kenneally characters. Her school status has been taken away and instead of sulking, she starts living a life that gathers a lot of attention. She starts making out with a lot of different guys, wearing skimpier clothes, and doing whatever she feels like doing. The other kids at Hundred Oaks High have been treating her awfully since her mom came out of the closet. It's awful, yet much too real, and she feels like an outcast now, so she takes revenge by doing whatever she pleases. But she's not happy, she wants to play softball again but she can't stand to be near the girls who whisper about her behind her back. So when she's offered the manager job for the guys' baseball team, she takes it, and quickly becomes infatuated with the new assistant coach, Brian.

Kenneally covers a whole lot of topics in her books. Love, sex, friendship and family. Her characters have flaws and they grow so much throughout the book. Like in Catching Jordan, this book focuses on a sport, in this case baseball, and I love that sports play a big theme in her books. I didn't know much about football, but baseball I love so I was glad to have a book where there would be scenes of games and Parker still being in love with the sport. Teamwork is the best part of sports and Kenneally has captured that camaraderie between players and the friendships that are built over time. Parker, like Jordan, has a lot of guy friends and she may or may not have made out with a few of them. But once Brian comes along, she's ready to kiss a real man and she'll stop at nothing to get him. Their relationship isn't healthy at all. They meet in secret and he does not want to take her out in public or have her meet any of his friends. It's not fun to read about Parker in this situation, but it's important to the story and in life. Girls put themselves in relationships like this all the time and tell themselves its fine, but it's not. Girls need someone who will treat them fairly and lovingly. Drew, Parker's long time friend, treats her perfectly and they get along great, perhaps there is something more there? And Corndog, one of the other players, who lives to annoy but also has a soft, sweet side that he only shows Parker. It soon becomes apparent that we have no idea who Parker might end up with and I loved that, knowing there are these guys that treat her nicely and deserve to make her happy. This is one of the parts I love about Kenneally's books, you never really know who the main will end up with and you don't really know who you're hoping she ends up with until the end.

Romance is the heart and soul of these books. Her girls are teenagers, falling in love for the first time and discovering the ups and downs of having that happen. What I love is that it's not just about the romance. Friendships run deep and they are constantly a part of the books, which is so important to me since girls tend to forget their friends when they're in love (we've all done it). Family plays a huge part too, especially in this one as Parker needs to learn to forgive her mom even though she did nothing wrong. Hundred Oaks is very religious, with church cliques and shunning. Parker's family was once part of the loving community, but after her mom came out, they were shunned away. It felt very old-fashioned, but I understand that there are still places like this all over the world and it was great to see this side of the religion. Throughout the novel, Parker writes letters to God, showing us this side of her that she's not quite sure of anymore. It hurts me that there are people who treat others like this, but I know how realistic it is.

This book made me laugh, cry, and swoon like crazy. I couldn't put it down and even now that I've read all of Keneally's books, this one still stands at the top. Parker is my favourite kind of heroine, trying to bring herself back up after falling and doing some things she's not proud of. The characters were wonderful and I was happy to see some that I met in Catching Jordan. I'm a sucker for books where other characters make cameos, so I know I've picked the right series to read.

"You only live once, and if something feels right to you and you want it, you should go after it."

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