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Stop back later in the week for an interview with Miranda Kenneally!
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The hook to this one caught my attention right away. The first line is about nail polish, after all, which you know I love if you pay any attention to my Mad About Nails feature. I was more thrilled than I probably should have been every time Parker painted her nails in the novel, although, wow, that girl paints them a lot. Sometimes more than once a day! Parker seems to have decided that nail polish is the answer to any equation beginning with BOYS, and is trying her hardest to be more girly, but it doesn't come naturally.
Parker has been trying to change who she is ever since the fallout that came from her mother announcing that she was gay and moving out. Even though Parker was on the all-star softball team, she quits the sport she once loved. Former friends called her butch and said she was like her mom. She's even shunned at church. Parker decides to be seen with as many boys as possible, because then no one can confuse her with her mother. She becomes the quintessential girly-girl, down to the Bubblegum Pink and Passion Peach nail polish. She even becomes the baseball team's manager. She's not allowed to date the guys on the team, but she can flirt, right? And Brian, the Assistant Coach, isn't that much older than her. What's six years? Besides, he isn't off-limits, though a relationship with him would be frowned upon if anyone found out... Parker's already used to everyone talking about her for things she can't control. Maybe it's time to show everyone that they're right about her by becoming that girl.
Parker goes through so much pain and turmoil over the course of STEALING PARKER. She's so hung up on what happened with her mother and allows everyone's words to cut right through her. She becomes the girl everyone says she is, even though she isn't like that at all. She makes some big mistakes and gets into a lot of trouble that could have otherwise been avoided, but she learns and grows. Parker is far from perfect, and I loved seeing her grow up over the course of the novel. She gets away from the stingy Church she grew up in and finds one that's more willing to embrace her for herself. She befriends some guys on the baseball team who truly have her best interests at heart. She learns to trust again, to grow a thicker skin, to embrace things beyond her control. There are so many issues at work in STEALING PARKER; this isn't a traditional breezy romance, though it has that, too, of course. It's about growing up and discovering yourself, about learning from your mistakes. The story and characters will really resonate with teenage readers struggling to make the same discoveries.
There is even more emotion and heart than in Kenneally's debut novel, CATCHING JORDAN, and it makes a strong companion novel. You don't need to read the books in order, either, though characters from the first book do make a cameo appearance. I would, however, recommend reading STEALING PARKER before THINGS I CAN'T FORGET because two of the characters come back in a bigger way.