Friday, November 2, 2012

Home Run Blog Tour: Review of Stealing Parker

STEALING PARKER
(Catching Jordan #2)
Miranda Kenneally
Contemporary Young Adult
256 pages
Sourcebooks Fire
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (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?


MY THOUGHTS
Ms. Kenneally initially impressed with Catching Jordan, showing a unique proficiency for wrapping up an emotional story in a deceptively simple package, and she continues to illustrate that gift in Stealing Parker. What could have been a cute and fun coming-of-age story with an adorable (and at times na├»ve) teenage heroine turns into a captivating tale that touches on a wide variety of issues to wring from us every drop of varied emotion we possess. While not entirely religious in nature, there is a stronger undercurrent of faith and God than was seen in Catching Jordan, but Ms. Kenneally manages to feature Parker’s struggles with her Christianity somewhat prominently without tossing it in our faces. Though some may balk at the portrayal of those who tend Parker’s church, the beautifully tense and infinitely layered relationships between Parker and a myriad of hugely appealing secondary characters are highlights, drawing us in even when certain elements may throw up a red flag.

Parker is an endearing young woman, someone we can see is battling with herself and those around her after her mother’s very public departure from her life after admitting she was gay to her family and friends. Those who claim to be Parker’s friends – as well as the church community that seems to hide behind the word “Christian” as though being labeled as such automatically makes them good people – abandon her, her brother, and her father, casting them out and rescinding their precious stamps of approval to leave them in emotional tatters. Parker then has our automatic support, our desire to stand at her back and bolster her against a torrent of ignorance and hate for something completely out of her control strong from page one, and while we often want to shake her for her sometimes willing blindness to how her actions affect her and those around her, our connection to her never wavers in its strength.

One of the most appealing aspects of this story is the growth we see in Parker in such a short number of pages, going from a confused, hurt, and somewhat oblivious girl to a still confused young woman, but one who has her eyes and heart open far wider than when she started. She makes a myriad of mistakes, allowing the opinions of others to drive her actions rather than acting for herself, but while the actions themselves are those of girl lacking a bit in maturity, her handling of the repercussions of her decisions is that of someone far older. She accepts the pain she causes and does her best to remedy it, never whining or breaking down even when we are tempted to drop to our knees in dejection on her behalf. She recognizes and owns her poor judgment when it boldly confronts her, learning from the experience and leaving us with the knowledge that she’ll be more self-aware moving forward.

As with Catching Jordan, the romance takes a more meandering route to get to its final destination, delighting us with tension while also sometimes cruelly playing with our fragile hearts to keep us coiled tight the entire time we’re reading. Ms. Kenneally is quickly becoming a favorite contemporary young adult author, and I am more than eagerly anticipating what romantic roller coaster she’ll take me on next.

Rating: 4/5


Don't forget that Miranda is a part of Get Real: Contemps on Tour with fellow YA authors Janet Gurtler and Lisa and Laura Roecker, so be sure and check the full schedule HERE to see if they're stopping in a city near you!

49 comments:

  1. I was initially afraid that the book would have a similar theme than Catching Jordan, but it was soo different but sooo good :) It was a great story and I truly was fully emotionally invested in Parkers happiness!

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    1. Me too! I get sucked into these stories every time, I can't wait for the next one:)

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  2. I'm one of the few who was disenchanted with Catching Jordan. I only got to about fifty pages before I forgot about it completely. Maybe I should pick it up again.

    Kudos to the author for tackling the stand of religious sectors on LGBT.

    Wonderful review, Jenny :D

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    1. I loved Catching Jordan, but if it's not for you, it's not for you right? You should move on to books you're desperate to read:)

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  3. Sounds good, but then I had my eye already on that previous book she wrote :)

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    1. Catching Jordan was amazing in my opinion. This one wasn't quite as strong, but I still really enjoyed it and look forward to the next book:):)

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  4. I am always so impressed by the popularity of these books because if I were to judge from afar, I would think they would be nothing too special, just a nice, cute read, as you say. So to hear about the amount of depth it has and how well the issues are handled? That is very encouraging. Plus, I just read my first issue novel in years and actually really loved it! And now that I know that I can actually like contemporary novels that tackle serious issues, I'm ready to take on more and your review makes me think I should most definitely try out these novels sometime. Thanks for the superb review, Jenny!

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    1. I definitely thought that going into Catching Jordan. It sounded like it would be full of cliches and really predictable, and it wasn't either. I hope you give both books a try Aylee!

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  5. STEALING PARKER! I read Catching Jordan recently so I can't wait to read this book ;) Parker sounds absolutely AMAZING and I'm really curious of the romance!

    Awesome review, Jenny ♥ Glad you enjoyed it!

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  6. WHY HAVE I NOT READ CATCHING JORDAN YET?! WHY?!!??!!?!
    I LOVE books featuring characters that grow as the story progresses :) I'm so glad Parker is one of them :) Fab review Jenny! I'll definitely read Catching Jordan and then Stealing Parker soon! <3

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    1. I DON'T KNOW SHIRLEY BUT GET ON IT! It was Parker's growth that really sold me on this one by the time I reached the end, she makes lots of mistakes, but seeing how she dealt with them made me fall in love with her a little bit more each time:)

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  7. I feel like I'm missing out by not having read anything by Miranda Kenneally. I need to remedy this ASAP. How are Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker related?

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    1. They're only loosely related - same town, same high school, but you don't have to have read Catching Jordan to understand Stealing Parker. The characters from Catching Jordan do make a brief appearance though, and they are a spoiler for book one, so just beware of that:)

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    2. Hmm. So I should start with Catching Jordan, since it's more fun not to be spoiled.

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    3. Yes. I also liked Catching Jordan better than this one (though clearly I thought Parker's story was great as well), so you don't want to skip it:)

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  8. I just read this one during my Hurricane ReadAThon! I agree with a lot of what you said. Kenneally has such a gift for sneaking in these seemingly delicate threads of a story that wrap up into this steel cable of a novel. I ADORE her writing style.

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    1. YEAH!!! How many books did you get read?

      I adore her writing style as well, her characters tend to do things I don't like, but the way they do it and what they learn from it are so well done that I have trouble objecting:)

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  9. YAY! I'm so excited to read this book! I heard it was freaking awesome. Nice review Jenny :)

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    1. I'm a huge fan of this series, I hope it continues for a long while:)

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  10. I loved and adored Catching Jordan so I'm really excited to read this one. I'm happy that the author is tackling some important issues without it being heavy handed. Got this one from NG and I can't wait to read it!

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    1. I really liked the way she handled everything, I only got as uncomfortable as it felt like she wanted me too, and she never pushed it too far that it became too much a commentary on Christianity.

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  11. I actually really enjoy romances that take a bit of a journey to reach the end point - as long as the twists and turns aren't TOO torturous. ;) I need to try something by this author soon! Great review, Jenny.

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    1. It's not too tortuous I promise, anything that's resolved in a single book works for me. It's the ones that drag a relationship out through 4,5, and 6 books that I start to get twitchy. This book just made for lots of tension and I love that:)

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  12. Yes! I'm so so happy you loved this too Jenny, Miranda has quickly become one of my favourite authors and it's easy to see why, she's able to mix in so much into her books, but still managing to leave me giggling away afterwards! Another brilliant review, I can't wait to get my hands on Things I can't Forget! :)

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    1. SAME! I'm definitely going to be reading anything and everything she writes:)

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  13. Great review! I loved Catching Jordan, so I've had my eye on this one. I'm glad you liked it...that means I'll definitely have to get my hands on a copy. I liked the romantic tension in Catching Jordan, so I'm excited to hear that it's similar in Stealing Parker. Kenneally is one of my new-ish favorite contemporary authors as well.

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    1. I loved the romantic tension in Catching Jordan too, it was fantastic. This one isn't quite as tense, but I still loved it:)

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  14. Jenny!! I'm so glad you loved Stealing Parker. Miranda is such an amazing author!!! I adored how much Parker grew throughout the novel like you. I also love how the romantic interest isn't always who you think it will be in her books. :)

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    1. YES! I love that she keeps us guessing and it takes a while for everything to work out:)

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  15. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I definitely liked it, but somehow, I couldn't get into it more like I wanted to. Still, I can't wait for the sequel and like you, I really appreciated Parker's growth in this one, so thanks for such a stunning review! :D

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    1. Parker's growth made the book for me. If she hadn't learned from her mistakes or was really slow in learning, her actions would have bothered me. Luckily though, she seemed to figure things out pretty quickly:)

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  16. Oh this looks good. I still need to read the first one. Seems like I'm the last to read that first one. LOL I think I'll move it up the wishlist. I've been looking for more contemps to read. Looks like you found an author for me. :)

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    1. Yes, yes I have Melissa. You will thank me when you have new men to add to the harem. You're welcome in advance ;-)

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  17. Oh, boo, I hate when they make us wait as far as the romance. Wait. No I don't :-D I love that scaling tension and all the coiled desires waiting to spring free. It makes it all so delicious. And I do enjoy the idea of a growing protagonist who tries to do right by everyone, including herself. I still haven't read either of Miranda's books so I hope to change that soon.

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    1. I hope you change it soon too Ash! These books are just really fun, and so much more emotionally complex than you might think from the covers and the blurbs.

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  18. You know.. That Christianity thing kind of scares me a bit, because I'm not a religious person, although, I don't judge people who are, but Estonian people aren't that religious in general. I think in a survey which was carried out a few years ago we're the least religious nation in Europe. Heh. Anyway, Parker kind of reminds me Caroline Forbes from The Vampire Diaries (not from the books but from the TV show) - she is literally my favorite character from that show! She was so shallow and annoying, but now she has the most beautiful soul and I'm just stunned by her generosity, goodness and heart. She still hasn't found her place entirely, but she's getting there. So whenerv I'm going to read this book, I'll probably like Parker as well :) Awesome review, Jenni!

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    1. And I don't know what the heck is wrong with me, I can't even spell a single pretty name. I'm sorry, JennYYYYYY!!!! Double vision from all that Red Bull, heh :D

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    2. Fear not! I shy away from anything that has prominent religious themes, it's just such a personal thing for everyone and I don't really like to read about it so I steer clear, but while it's a part of this story, it's not preachy in any way (at least I didn't think so). If you haven't read book 1, I highly recommend it!

      And no worries on the name, I answer to pretty much anything:)

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  19. I shy away from religious stuff too but it worked for me in this one. It wasn't preachy but Parker WAS religious and that's definitely unique in YA.
    I also was impressed that this story was so different from Catching Jordan, I was a bit worried it might be the same ol' thing but it definitely wasn't!

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  20. This sounds so awesome!! Im glad you enjoyed it, despite all the religious stuff (lol) Great review dear!
    - Farah @ MajiBookshelf

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  21. I definitely need to buy a copy of Catching Parker, these books sound amazing !! Thanks for the fab review Jenny !!

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  22. Tension- filled romance cruelly playing with our fragile hearts?? Love, LOVE this review Jenny! I haven't read Catching Jordan yet (shame on me...) but I certainly will do so soon with your high praise. ;) I adore your description of Parker, too- she sounds like a wonderful character. :)

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  23. I've heard great things about her first book which gets me curious to read both her books now.

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  24. I loved the author previous book, it was such a great read! The way you describe romance and character growth has made decide to bump this up on my tbr. Thanks for the beautiful review!

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  25. Still need to read book #1 but I've heard amazing things about this series! :)

    Nice review Jenny!

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  26. Yay--a book we've both read! I also gave this one 4 stars but gave Catching Jordan 5 stars. I love the voice of the heroine in both books but Sam Henry is a favorite character for me. Sports romance is really fun. I agree with you about eagerly anticipating the next in this series!

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  27. I cannot wait to read this book. I just finished The Lost Prince, so I think I'll start this one tomorrow. Yay!

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  28. There's something about Miranda's books that I just find so appealing and fabulous. I'm not sure if it's the humour or the layered characters or what... something about them just really hooks me. Love them!

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