Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (twitter)
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: secrecy, teacher student relationships, homosexuality, Christianity
Format read: ARC from NetGalley
Catching Jordan Joint Review
Summary: Parker’s mom tells a scandalous secret that makes her question her faith, quit the softball team, and leads her to seek an inappropriate relationship with the baseball team’s assistant coach.
Parker’s mom had a secret, one she kept for many years. She finally decided to be honest and the truth has rocked Parker’s world. Parker used to be an all-star athlete, extremely involved in her church, and had tons of friends. She’s since quit the softball team, questions her faith, and finds herself lonely as her ex-best friends circulate rumors about her.
Parker’s church has completely turned on her since her mother’s secret was announced. Her ex-best friend (the pastor’s daughter) was forced to end their friendship. (Why she felt the need to be so atrocious, I’ll never understand.) Church ladies gossip when she walks by and she doesn’t understand how her family could be ripped apart like this. She’s just not sure where she stands anymore. A part of Parker still believes there is a God, as evidenced by the prayers she writes (and subsequently burns). She seeks normalcy — for her drug-using-former-perfect-student-brother to go back to his old self and for her dad to acknowledge that things are messed up. Her prayers are her true self – the things she feels she cannot tell anyone. She fears getting close to many people again because they always screw her over.
To receive a different kind of attention, Parker loses herself to kissing boys and remaking herself into a skinnier new girl. She wants to prove she’s different from her mom. She kisses anyone she wants, but never pursues relationships with the boys, giving her a not-so-great reputation. She’s never felt the need to date someone she doesn’t see herself with in the future. Besides, kissing is just fun.
When she meets the new assistant baseball coach, twenty-three year old Brian Huffman, she’s smitten with him. He’s cute and doesn’t know all her secrets (therefore doesn’t judge her). As the team manager, she gets to spend an abundance of time with the new coach. Their relationship slowly progresses into more than a friendship between student and teacher. Maybe kissing isn’t enough with Coach Huff.
On the flip side, she starts getting to know Corndog (Will) better. He’s always been her biggest competition for valedictorian, but now that she’s been officially deemed number one, their rivalry has subsided. Parker begins hanging out with Will and her best friend Drew outside of practices. It seems that Drew’s withdrawing a bit, and has his own secrets. Things get incredibly complicated as Parker’s secrets and friendships collide with Drew’s secrets and everyone learns the truth. Despite the multiple plot lines that were chaotically interwoven, Kenneally handled each one perfectly and never let anything take away from the story and Parker’s journey.
Stealing Parker definitely felt more intense and somber than Catching Jordan. It’s about a girl’s exploration to find herself and understand her relationship with God amidst a huge small-town scandal that rocks her world. It’s about her endeavor to understand (and explore) her sexuality. Parker is faced with a lot of responsibility being the bearer of her own secrets and eventually Drew’s. The weight of her mom’s decisions and her own, mixed with an obligation to stay true to her best friend, puts her under a considerable amount of pressure.
Kenneally gripped me from the first page with Parker’s story. I couldn’t tear myself away from the pages of Stealing Parker. While Kenneally won me over with Jordan and Henry’s incredible story in Catching Jordan, she has earned my readership for life with Stealing Parker.
(Oh, and…! I’m happy to announce you’ll get to connect with Jordan and Henry from Catching Jordan again via a few awesome cameos!)