(Catching Jordan #2)
Contemporary Young Adult
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.
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?
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 naïve) 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.
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!