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Review: Defending Taylor (Kenneally)

Having read all the previous six books in Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series, I was excited to be able to read an advance copy of Defending Taylor. I’m feeling a bit neutral about this one; it is neither my favorite in the series nor my least favorite. I do love this series though, especially how the books feature female protagonists who are into sports.

AUTHOR: Miranda Kenneally
SERIES: Hundred Oaks, book 7
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781492630081
PAGES: 304
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: realistic/contemporary
SETTING: present-day Tennessee
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS girls

SUMMARY: Seventeen-year old Taylor loves her life. She’s a straight-A student, loves her boyfriend Ben, attends a posh private school, plays on an elite soccer team, and is on-track to attend Yale University next year. But when illegal prescription drugs are discovered in Taylor’s backpack, Taylor takes the fall for her boyfriend. She is promptly expelled from her school and must move back in with her parents and attend the local high school, Hundred Oaks. Suddenly, Taylor’s perfect life is completely imperfect and her chances of attending Yale are quickly slipping away.


“Sometimes, problems grow like a crack in the ceiling that starts out small

but expands if you’re not paying careful attention. Then the roof caves in.”


REVIEW: I love this series! While Defending Taylor is not my favorite of the series, I did enjoy this book as I did with all the others. I think many high school girls will identify with Taylor and her ambition. While it was the wrong thing to do, I think there are high schoolers would have done the same thing as Taylor (take the fall for Ben) if they were in Taylor’s situation at that time. Taylor loves Ben and believes that her father’s position as Tennessee Senator will help her receive a softer punishment than Ben would have received. She was wrong in this case, but I think she just as easily could have been right.

This was the first of two books I read in a row that dealt with highly-motivated girls taking Adderol to manage the pressure of school and getting into elite universities. It may just be a coincidence that I read these two books back-to-back, but it does make me wonder if this is a growing problem (or maybe has already been a problem) with today’s teens. I recently talked with a class of seventh graders about these and other books about teens with anxiety and asked them why they think so many books were coming out about anxiety and prescription drug abuse. Their response? Teens are under a lot of pressure these days.

I will say that I did not understand Taylor’s drive to be so perfect. I know there are people like Taylor out there, but it seems an awfully sad way to live. To each her own, I guess.

I did not mention the love interest, Ezra, but maybe there’s a reason for that. He’d be perfectly dreamy in real life, but as a book boyfriend, he’s a bit too perfect. Taylor never really seemed to struggle with him, even when they had a huge fight and nearly broke up, I knew Ezra was too smitten with Taylor to let her go. And his reason for standing up Taylor at her birthday party two years before was completely and totally LAME.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Fans will love it. New readers do not have to read this series in order–they are separate stories about people who attended the same high school in Tennessee.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don’t have it, but I’ll probably get it eventually. This series is moderately popular with my romance readers.

READALIKES: any of the Hundred Oaks series (Kenneally); Pushing the Limits series (McGarry); Perfect Chemistry series (Elkeles)


  • Overall: 4/5
  • Creativity: 3/5–same formula as many YA romances; it does work though!
  • Characters: 3/5–Ezra not that interesting
  • Engrossing: 4/5–a quick, fun read
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5–mainly romance readers
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: high–10-15 F-bombs; 10-20 sh**; damn; asshole; dick
  • Sexuality: high–all bases covered, including oral sex and intercourse. Nothing described in great detail.
  • Violence: none
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium-high; Taylor takes Adderol (prescription medication) to help her “focus” at school; a boy wants Taylor to sell him some Ritalin

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