WOW this book caught my attention immediately. I seriously went to bed at 8:30 last night just so I could lay there and start reading… but then I couldn’t put it down and actually go to sleep until I’d finished it!
In Stealing Parker, Miranda Kenneally deals with a whole crapload of issues that are VERY relevant to teenagers right now, but she did it in this neat, compact, fast-moving way that was so well written I didn’t even realize how much stuff I was having to think about. It was a really fun read, and I instantly connected with the protagonist, Parker, through her struggles and snippets of journal entries (which she mostly burned, so the pyro in me enjoyed that immensely).
One of the main issues Parker has to deal with is her Christian faith and how it has been affected by the recent divorce of her parents. The way Kenneally writes about this is uncomfortable, but so very authentic and real. It’s true that sometimes Christians get it all wrong – none of us are perfect – and the way that’s portrayed in this book is eye opening and heart breaking, but it’s not blasphemous or disrespectful. It’s just honest. Now, I will say that I didn’t agree theologically with some of what Parker’s mom ends up telling her, and I have some other theological disagreements with lifestyle choices in this book, but the bottom line is that it made me think without challenging my own faith.I think that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t, though, recommend this for anyone under high school age (like, UPPER high school) or anyone who’s not solid in their own beliefs. It’s a challenging read in that area.
I absolutely loved the infusion of softball and baseball into this fun romance, too. I never realized how much I seriously enjoyed playing softball until I stopped after 10 years, so it was really fun for me personally to read a book with that as an element in it. It doesn’t seem like there are many YA novels out there with sports-playing female protagonists, but maybe I just haven’t found them.
And of course there’s plenty of romance, which I just can’t get enough of. Parker finds herself attracted to and flirting with the new assistant baseball coach (he’s 23, and she’s turning 18 in less than 2 months). While the age difference really wouldn’t be that big of a deal once she’s out of high school, the flirtation is scandalous just because he’s a teacher and she’s still a student. In the beginning you’re almost rooting for them, kind of like Aria and Ezra from Pretty Little Liars. But then there’s also this guy that she’s been competing with academically for years, but now that her position as valedictorian is secure, she can look at him as more than just the competition. I won’t give away too much. Just know that in the end, it’s all good and delightfully romantic.