Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review: Stealing Parker (Kenneally)

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AUTHOR: Miranda Kenneally
SERIES: Hundred Oaks, book 2
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
PUBLICATION DATE: October 1, 2012
ISBN: 9781402271878
PAGES: 245
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: contemporary romance
GIVE IT TO: HS romance fans
SUMMARY: In an effort to prove she is nothing like her lesbian mother, Parker Shelton quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds, and makes out with lots of different guys. Parker is excited when the cute new baseball coach--and teacher at her school--starts flirting with Parker, but could she be going too far?

REVIEW: While Stealing Parker will not appeal to everyone (more on that in a minute), for me, it was a page-turner. I read the entire book in one sitting--I just could not put it down! Catching Jordan fans will enjoy Stealing Parker and will love that Jordan and Sam make a few cameo appearances.

Stealing Parker is a Christian fiction story that is far from "Pollyanna" and recognizes that like anyone else, Christians sometimes make terrible choices and become disconnected from God. I love that despite her choices, Parker makes a decision to turn her life around and follows through on that. She accepts responsibility for her behavior, learns from it, and moves on. High school girls (whether Christian or not) will eat it up and ask for more.

Much of Stealing Parker centers on Parker's flirting and subsequent sexual relationship with the school's young baseball coach. While the teacher-student relationship will turn off some readers, it is a reality and something that does happen. As taboo as it is in today's news, many teen girls experience crushes on their teachers. It is normal and generally harmless as long as no one acts on it. Stealing Parker allows teen girls who do have a crush on a teacher an opportunity to experience the repercussions of a teacher-student relationship without actually taking the risks themselves. While in this story, the consequences of the relationship are relatively mild, reading about a teacher-student relationship that ends badly may be enough to prevent a teen girl from entertaining a relationship with a teacher.

As I mentioned above, this book is not for everyone. Parker's many sexual liaisons with the coach are described in detail, and that will bother some readers. Though they never go all the way, they get pretty close. Know that the coach in question not a pedophile so much as he is a young, confused guy who does not try hard enough to stay from a pretty, flirtatious girl who is six years his junior. It does not make it right, but he isn't some "dirty old man" either.

Personally, I really liked Stealing Parker and give it a 5-star rating for keeping me engrossed for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. I enjoyed the characters and the sweet, slow-building romance (yes, there is another romance besides the icky teacher-student one!). Kenneally knows her audience and has written a realistic story with characters that teens will care about. I have not read Catching Jordan but have now added it to my TBR pile.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Definitely read it if you can handle lots of detailed teacher-student sexual behavior. I loved it, but it is not for every reader.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, and I have no plans to get it. Stealing Parker is too mature for most middle school libraries.

READALIKES: Catching Jordan (Kenneally), Boy Toy (Lyga)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: mild-medium; I don't remember much language, but there is a little
  • Sexuality: very high; mostly involves the teacher-student relationship--Parker and the coach make out in his truck plenty; lots of heavy kissing and touching, including under-the-shirt and into the pants. Also features four homosexual characters.
  • Violence: none
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium; adult drinks a beer at a restaurant; teens drink at a party

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