ARC Review: “Stealing Parker” by Miranda Kenneally

Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks #2) by Miranda Kenneally

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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?

3 1/2 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for this eARC! This book is now available.

Total disclaimer: I never read Catching Jordan. I really wanted too, but I just never did. However, I was not immune to all the hype surrounding the book, and it’s sequel. So when Stealing Parker showed up on NetGalley, there is no denying how hard I pounced on it.

I was really disappointed with what I got.

I expected a story about a girl who turns into a little bit of a slut to show that she isn’t gay, like her mom turned out to be. That much is in the blurb. (Okay, the last part isn’t explicit, but I guessed. That’s not even a spoiler, because it’s right in the first chapter.) There was definetly that in this book. However, Kenneally tries to fit SO MUCH ELSE in here that nearly every plot and subplot got lost. Let me try and give you a run down without spoiling things. This book included:

1. Discussion about gayness (from Parker’s mom and a friend)

2. How the Christian church deals with gays, people associated with gays, and also “sluts”

3. Student/teacher relationships

4. Drug problems

5. Losing your best friends/being bullied

6. How other people’s opinions of you affect you

7. Mother/daughter issues

8. Father/daughter issues

9. Sibling issues

10. Absentee mother issues

11. Asberger’s Syndrome

12. Figuring out who you really are and want to be

I could probably go on, but I think you see the point. I mean, Asberger’s Syndrome? It’s a big issue, yes, so it doesn’t deserve to be mentioned for five seconds for no particular reason. Some of those, like Asberger’s and the drug problems, don’t relate to Parker directly, but were squashed into the back as even more subplot lines. There were also multiple gay plot lines, but the one relating to Parker’s friend basically only exists to complicate Parker’s relationship to her “true love.” When issues that are very, very big just get marginalized, I get pretty annoyed. I really just didn’t understand why there was so much in this book, when any one of the issues mentioned above could be a book BY THEMSELVES. All the points Kenneally was trying to make–and all were good!–just got lost in the jumble.

I think my other major problem with this book was the student/teacher relationship. It made me feel icky throughout the whole book, which I think was the point. I mean, obviously I wasn’t supposed to feel GOOD about it. (I’m looking at you, Pretty Little Liars.) Still, the way it was handled in the end also confused me. Everyone kept saying it was the teacher’s fault, as if he had forced her into the relationship. Personally, I found that the wrong way to handle that. There isn’t really a right way, I know, but Parker totally had a LOUD voice in how that relationship went down, and it wasn’t right for everyone to say she was coerced into the whole thing.

Basically, I think the problem with this book was that Kenneally overreached herself. There was a really cute love story in here, but it got covered up and pushed around by a lot of other big issues. There were way too many stories in here for one book, so we never got to see the full potential of any one of them. I appreciated each and every one of the messages, but you can’t here them clearly if dozens are shouting at once. Still, I look forward to finally checking out Catching Jordan (who does make several cameos in this book!).

Stealing Parker will be followed by more companion books, Things I Can’t Forget and Racing Savannah, in 2013.


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