Review: Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Stealing Parker
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Series: Hundred Oaks #2
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Purchased
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?
Color me happy when Miranda Kenneally wrote a baseball book to go along with her football book. I loved Catching Jordan, so naturally I was excited to get my hands on Stealing Parker. It's less sports and more character issues in this one. I wouldn't have minded a little more baseball, but I really liked it all the same.

Parker has grown up in a religious household. She regularly attends church. Her (former) best friend is a pastor's daughter. She talks to God on a regular basis. That is not to say that the tone of this story is preachy. It's just the opposite, really. Many of the people at Parker's church are highly judgmental. Part of Parker's growth is coming to realize that the environment at her family's church is not a healthy or a happy one. It doesn't get down on religion either, though. Parker visits a different church in the course of the novel and it is a really great experience for her. I know there are people who don't like it when books include religion, but I do, provided that the book doesn't take a preachy tone or push an agenda, and this one doesn't do either of those things. I think that a lot of people struggle with their faith or lack of faith and question what to believe, and I like seeing characters experiencing that struggle, especially in books for teenagers, who are questioning so many things. I like to see religion represented from time to time, and I think that Miranda Kenneally handles it well, with delicacy and in a way that suits Parker's character.

Parker is such an interesting chick. She's not one of those YA heroines who lacks confidence or self-assurance. She knows she's smart. She knows she's talented. She knows she's pretty. She knows boys like her. She's flirty. She likes to kiss a lot of boys so she can be certain that people will not mistakenly think that she is like her mother. And this is where her problems begin. She has mommy issues, and she has to come to terms with what happened to her family when her mother stopped being a part of it. Luckily she has a great friend in Drew, who is pretty awesome most of the time. He doesn't let her wallow in pity. He makes efforts to include her when her girlfriends have stopped doing so. He's just a great guy, and their friendship is Parker's rock. And then there is Corndog (whose real name is Will). He's a great friend to Parker as well, though she doesn't figure that out right away. He takes some issue with her behavior, and isn't afraid to scold her for it. He also quietly makes sure that she eats enough, which nobody else bothers to do. Sam Henry and Jordan have a few cameos, as do a few of the other minor characters from Catching Jordan.

One of my favorite things about Miranda Kenneally's books is the dialogue. It's so effortlessly funny. I could read some of the conversations between her characters over and over again and it could probably pull me out of even the worst bad mood. And it doesn't feel forced - just easy and authentic. Love, love, love the dialogue.

The plot deals with Parker's struggles, many of which are internal, but it isn't slow. It moves along steadily and the humorous dialogue and fun scenes break up the tension of the problem stuff. Shit has to get real, though, before Parker can meet her potential for character growth.

I really enjoyed Stealing Parker, maybe not quite as much as Catching Jordan, but I adored Parker and Corndog's relationship development and am wholly excited for Miranda's next book.

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