Hundred Oaks, Book 2
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Sourcebooks at BEA
Description from Goodreads:
Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.
After a scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys--a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far...especially when he starts flirting back.
First Sentence: "Bubblegum pink is the nail polish of the day."
After I read Catching Jordan last week, I was so excited to dive into Kenneally's next book, Stealing Parker. I am so glad I had a copy of this from BEA, so I didn't have to wait around for a copy to show up for me from the library! Miranda Kenneally's books are just so much fun. If you like sporty contemporaries with happy endings, you have to read these. Most of my reads are a little bit more depressing or fantastical, and these make for a refreshing break.
There are a ton of commonalities between Stealing Parker and Catching Jordan, and I don't just mean the sports. Both girls have a similar love triangle dynamic going, though their reactions to it differ somewhat. Also, both get their feelings out by writing, a strange similarity I felt. Jordan writes poems as a way of getting a handle on her feelings, and Parker writes letters to God, which, unsurprisingly, I wasn't a huge fan of.
Parker's faith is actually a huge theme of the book, one which is handled with tact. Parker's family attends one of those big pompous, holier-than-thou churches, which puts members down if they do anything that doesn't fit their definition of Christian. For example, they've been gossiping about Parker's family ever since Parker's mom left her father to live life as a lesbian. Their church clearly just drains the happiness from Parker, and brings so much self-hatred into her life. However, the book isn't anti-faith either, as she attends another church, which is friendly and uplifting. Basically, the message is to not get yourself stuck in an unhealthy environment or with false friends.
The reason I'm rating Stealing Parker just a little bit lower, though it was still an awesome read, is that I just didn't like Parker as much as I liked Jordan. Parker's reaction to the gossip about her mother and the intimations that she too might be a lesbian, because she's muscular and plays softball, isn't one that I can fathom. She decides to prove that she's straight by losing thirty pounds and making out with any guy that's interested. She doesn't go any further, but that's not really the issue. Clearly all of this tonsil hockey isn't making her feel better, so she really shouldn't be doing it.
In her latest endeavor to make bad choices, Parker decides to go after the baseball coach, a 23 year old guy just starting on his first job out of grad school. Brian Hoffman seems like the perfect guy, and she thinks she has a chance. Well, guess what? Teachers that date their students? Creepers. I just wanted to grab Parker and shake her back and forth. I also couldn't stand that she, just like Jordan, continues in an unhealthy relationship even when she's not really into it anymore. Save yourself some heartbreak and run away, girl! Still, I feel I must emphasize that all of her stupid choices came off as believable teenage acting-out, but that didn't make me any less uncomfortable!
As with Catching Jordan, what really makes this such an incredibly delightful book are the well-drawn characters. Kenneally has a knack for writing authentic friendships, down to the stupid nicknames and inside jokes. I just love how real the bonds are between the characters, even the painful ones, like with Laura and Parker. I've had some Lauras in my past, and Kenneally got that just right.
Miranda Kenneally's books are so incredibly enjoyable. Plus, I love the way these books are sort of a series, in that they're set at the same school and characters from the previous books show up. I loved getting to hang out with Jordan and Sam just a little bit! I will be eagerly anticipating the next installment, Things I Can't Forget.
"'I don't even get why he likes me.' Why anybody likes me.
He clucks his tongue. 'You're your own person. You wear what you want and don't bother with people who annoy you. Everyone wants to be like that.'"