Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
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? (courtesy of Goodreads)
In her follow-up to the wonderful Catching Jordan, Miranda Kenneally has established herself as a masterful writer of young adult contemporary fiction. Like her first book, Stealing Parker follows a normal teenage girl going through unusual but believable trials, shows her progress into a wiser, better person, and pairs her up with a great guy.
Parker's world fell apart when her mother left the family for another woman. Not only does Parker have to deal with the normal anger and grief that anyone would experience when a parent leaves, but she also has to deal with the aftermath of her mother's scandal. Parker's unforgiving, conservative Christian neighbors only make things worse by acting like she's tainted. Parker's personality transplant into feminine, flirty make-out queen is understandable in the circumstances.
The first guy on the scene in this book is Brian, the boy's baseball coach. Since he's the only guy mentioned in the synopsis, I wondered if he would be the "hero" of the novel. He starts out being good for Parker. He jokes around a lot and treats her differently than her peers. But eventually the creepiness factor slithers in. Brian is not a bad guy per se. If Parker was a few years older, they might make a good pair. But this is lesson number one in why 18 + 23 = Bad Idea.
Enter up Will. Sweet, smart, funny, down to earth. He's there for Parker when no one else is and doesn't judge. What I love about Ms. Kenneally's books is that the winning guy is not necessarily swoon-worthy, drop-dead gorgeous. Or even if he is, that's not what's emphasized. The main characters of the Hundred Oaks series find nice guys. These are the types of guys who, even if they don't end up getting married some day, the girls can look back at their relationship fondly, instead of wondering "ugh, what was I thinking?" Plus, the boys are "boys," not unrealistically mature men in 18 year old bodies.
If you're a fan of contemporary YA fiction, I can't recommend Stealing Parker or Miranda Kenneally's other books highly enough. There's lots of snark and witty dialogue to make you laugh. The main characters end up in better places than they started and they find super sweet guys. These are the kinds of books that make you go "Awww..." at the end.