Stealing Parker, Miranda Kenneally's second book, was a very enjoyable read. It had romance, funny times, and the sports bent--which Kenneally writes SO well. The friends you can't help but love (Sam and Tate and Corndog and Drew!) were there in full force. And Parker, the main character, is a girl who readers will root for--even when she makes mistakes.
I'm not going to lie. I was pulled in from page 1. We immediately find out why Parker is the way that she is, and we also get a taste of her voice.
"I hate baseball. I know, I know. That means I'm not a true American. It probably means I'm not human. But I gave up foam fingers, peanuts, and the Atlanta Braves when my mom announced she's a lesbian and ran off with her friend who was more than just a friend. A year ago January, she divorced my dad, and I divorced her dreams of me playing softball for Hundred Oaks."--Stealing Parker, pg. 1
It was an intriguing plot. Here's this girl whose life is flipped upside down, and she doesn't even have her mother to help her through the hard times because…well, her mom caused it all. I wanted to see how Parker would deal. I had to know.
To prove she's not like her mom, Parker becomes the ultimate girly girl. She quits softball (which she loves) and kisses a whole bunch of guys (which gives her a reputation). Of course, the small town church folk give her a hard time. This sucks b/c Parker used to love her church, and she can't even find peace there. Then her BFF Drew signs her up to manage their baseball team. Enter Brian Hoffman, the young assistant baseball coach and hottie in that scruffy, older man, gum-chewing baseball player way, and you have a recipe for trouble.
The teacher/student romance is a hard sell for me as a reader. I mean, I never had a Brian Hoffman at my school. Trust me. I would remember. The coaches were all wayyyy older, like 40s-50s, and kinda mean, and basically jerks, and…yeah. My teen self did not go all starry-eyed at the sight of their farmer's tans lol.
But Kenneally's approach was different. 1) Brian was Parker's friend first. 2) Parker was a confused girl looking for something--or someone--to make her feel special. 3) After it got started, Kenneally didn't romanticize the relationship. Parker learns some cold, hard truths, and I can appreciate that. Though, I felt so sad for her at times.
On the other hand, I loved Corndog!! As far as love interests go, this guy was a sweetie pie. He watched chick flicks with Parker, for goodness sakes. He looked out for his friends--our MC included--and forgave her when she made a seemingly unforgivable mistake. *Sigh*
And Drew. He was such a great BFF. Sometimes you get the feeling that an author really has a soft spot for her side characters, and this was definitely the case here. He was funny, fully developed and fun to be around, and he never let Parker down. Loved him.
Parker made mistakes, but she had a lot of crap to deal with. In the end, she finally found herself. Though I liked Jordan more, I enjoyed Parker's story and Kenneally's writing. Her YA contemporaries always make me laugh. And that is a definite win!!