Review: Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Stealing Parker (#2)
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Published: October 1, 2012
Pages: 265
Series: Hundred Oaks
Source: purchased

Goodreads Summary: 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?

I'd like to start off by pointing out that I read 'Stealing Parker' sporadically through a long period of time, sometimes going weeks between picking it up again.

I enjoyed 'Catching Jordan'  (Kenneally's debut) thoroughly and found myself so impressed by Kenneally's ability of incorporating such fresh characters into what we already know so well as the genre of "contemporary romance" where there's all too often familiar oh-I've-read-this-before characters involved.
I can't say 'Stealing Parker' lacked of interesting character ideas but from the get-go I had a hard time fitting the pieces.

Parker Shelton certainly was no bore in text; good Christian girl, star of the softball team, her school's valedictorian, victim of upsetting family scandals, and a wild flirt, are words to outwardly describe her. 

Between learning about Parker's faith and doubts as a Christian and her former devotion to church, her quitting softball due to her mother's unforgiving scandal of coming out as a lesbian (and leaving for another woman), and not only being an "infamous hook-up" but also getting involved with the new coach of the football team.. I couldn't help but look at this girl as a Rubik's Cube.

Parker had many strong sides and many personal stories to bring to the table, but at the end of the day it felt inconsistent and resembled trying to follow two completely different maps that'd been torn up and taped into to one.
The many sub-storylines in 'Stealing Parker' distracted me from whatever I was probably meant to pay more attention to and I ended up feeling like I was jumping around, not really knowing where to go or where to look.

Let's talk about Brian Hoffman already, the twenty-something-year-old football coach and forbidden love interest of Parker.
I just don't know. I was incredibly curious as to how Kenneally would work with the subject of a teacher-student relationship (which makes us cringe more than not). 

To our luck, Brian is young and assumed to be good-looking, but I couldn't comprehend how it even came about that Parker and Brian would take it to taboo grounds from the day that they first met, there wasn't much time between those two stops. Judging from the innocent flirting there wasn't anything that told me "oh, this is getting somewhere" before it suddenly did.

From the start I didn't particularly find an attraction to Brian, there was something about him that made me crinkle my nose or raise an eyebrow. May it be uncertainty or hesitation. Why was he doing this? What were his intentions? Was he using her?  There was a lot about the established relationship that neither made sense nor were clear to me. When things started to get raunchy I found myself wanting to take shelter.

For me, Brian did overshadow the story considering the other characters that could've been more relevant, such as Will and Drew who were still a big part of 'Stealing Parker' but not nearly as much as to attach me.
I rooted for Will, all the way. He was a real sweet guy. I was disappointed so little actually happened between him and Parker or had the chance to happen before it was cut short.

I wonder if I'd wanted to invest more emotions in the story if 'Stealing Parker' had only focused on one potential relationship and built to convince you of it - Parker and Brian or Parker and Will, instead it ended up feeling scattered and tangled.

'Stealing Parker' is a coming-of-age story dealing with many issues regarding family and friendship as well as faith and acceptance, and I'm sure it will hit home for a lot of people, just not for me this time.


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