Rummanah Aasi
  I have been in a book rut for quite some time. I've started and dropped at least five books, all of which failed to grab my attention. When I came across Stealing Parker, I read it from front to back in a matter of a couple of days. Readers who enjoy YA contemporary romance or a well written, realistic romance should definitely pick up the book. Many thanks to Sourcebooks and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy.

Description (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?

Review: Stealing Parker is a companion novel to Catching Jordan, a book I thoroughly enjoyed in 2011. There are many similarities between both books. They are both set in a small town of Hundred Oaks, Tennessee and feature characters who love sports. Realistic and witty dialogue coupled with endearing characters, and a tightly packed plot makes these books highly enjoyable and readable.
  Parker is our heroine and narrator. She is the high-school valedictorian and a star softball player. Her life is thrown into chaos when her mother suddenly leaves the family to move in with her girlfriend. Ostracized and bullied by many of her friends and her church members, Parker is constantly trying to prove that she is not like her mother. She quits her favorite sport, loses weight due to the "butch" label rumors. She is even taken to making out with random guys in a heartbreaking effort to prove to her point. I liked how Parker remained on the cusp of adolescence and adulthood, which is highlighted by the countdown of her 18th birthday on each chapter. Though she runs the house like an adult, she is still painfully self-aware of how others see her. For example, once she consciously knows how the hurts the boys she has playfully made-out with she stops this behavior.
  Parker's family drama cages her and prevents her from opening up to anyone, afraid that they may use her vulnerabilities as arsenal against her, which was viciously made clear by her best friend. Alone, abandoned, and hurt, Parker seeks solace from her best friend Drew and yearns for someone to understand her.  She thinks she has found the answer when she meets Brian, a hot 23-year-old assistant coach at her school. Brian seems to be a kindred spirit and is wounded by pains of his own. Though forbidden, things progress between Parker and Brian at a steady pass soon become physical. Brian seems more interested in trying to convince her to have sex than in talking. Mixed in with all this confusion is a budding and sweet romance with a longtime acquaintance, but her best friend Drew finally comes out to her and drunkenly confesses a secret crush on him. All of this drama forces Parker to identify what is most important to her and how to unload the burden of being someone else besides herself. The self-evaluation process realistically plays out. Parker begins the journey and we are left with the strong belief that her growth will continue. She doesn't have all the answers, but we can rest assure that she knows how to make the right decisions.
  Kenneally addresses important and hard hitting issues such as sexuality, religion, self-discovery, and self-love, but it never felt heavy handed to me. Like the themes themselves, the characters aren't one dimensional and leave food for thought once you finished reading the book. I really liked Parker's confessions or letters she wrote to God, revealing her most inner thoughts and emotions. It drew me closer to her as a reader. While I would have liked Parker spend more time with her mother and work out their issues, I do like how there is a starting place to mend their broken bond.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Some language, crude humor, and strong sexual content (i.e. bases 1-3 are covered). Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: The Dairy Queen series by Catherine Murdock, Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
5 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    "Kenneally addresses important and hard hitting issues such as sexuality, religion, self-discovery, and self-love, but it never felt heavy handed to me."

    YES!!! That's exactly the way I felt Rummanah! I thought she worked all those things into the story beautifully, and my heart just went out to Parker for the way longtime friends treated her and disparaged her mother. I'm looking forward to the next book for sure, fabulous review!


  2. I'm afraid I didn't much care for Catching Jordan, I found it just mildly amusing and nothing more. This one seems to be just a touch more serious, which is, of course, a plus, so I'm willing to give it a try. It wasn't that I thought something was wrong with Catching Jordan. It was just that I was slightly bored. Still, I am convinced.
    Wonderful review, Rummanah.


  3. Sounds like a great book! And one I should pick up.
    Great review.

    Heather


  4. Candace Says:

    Very well said! I really enjoyed it as well and felt it covered the issues really well. I liked Catching Jordan a bit more but this was great as well.


  5. I loved this book. I agree that she dealt with a lot of "issues" very well. Especially religion which is rarely mentioned at all. I liked Brian at first but then realized he was creepy.


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