Unfortunately for me, Stealing Parker struck out quite a few times.
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally focuses on Parker Shelton, a former all-star softball player who now spends her time kissing as many boys as possible. Parker reluctantly agrees to be the baseball team’s manager, but her mood changes when the young new coach notices her. Soon, finds herself stepping out of the shadow of her mother’s scandal and into the spotlight of her own.
I think one of the major reasons I had trouble with this book was the focus on the student-teacher relationship. Even though I read the summary of this book before picking it up, I for some reason didn’t realize this part of the book’s plot. Even though Kenneally by no means encourages this type of relationship, it was tough for me to read. Beyond that, there were several aspects of this book that I did enjoy and several parts that I felt needed improvement.
I think Parker was a complex main characters who really grew throughout the novel. I understood her motivations for all her actions, even though her reasoning was flawed, and felt like she realistically reacted to situations for someone her age. I liked that through her small letters we got to see how she felt in past situations because it really helped me understand who she was as a person now. I also enjoyed seeing her relationships with her various family members change throughout the course of the book.
While I really liked Parker’s character, I think a few of the other characters fell flat. I wish that we could have seen more depths to Parker’s rival. She came across as very one-dimensional and I wanted more of an explanation of why she treated Parker the way that she did. I also wanted to see more dimensions to the coach, Brian. At first, he seemed more complex, but as the relationship progressed he became more flat and like a character in an after school special.
Another aspect of this book that I had mixed feelings towards was the romance aspect. I appreciated how Parker’s relationship with Will (better known as Corndog), progressed slowly throughout the book. However, sometimes his character seemed inconsistent to me and even though I tried, it was really hard to get past his nickname. This was pretty standard YA relationship to me, so it needed something to give it a little extra spark.
A couple books before I read Stealing Parker, I read an ARC of Game On by Michelle Smith that also is a YA contemporary centered around baseball (you can read my review here). I really liked how the environment influenced the characters and how baseball was a major player throughout the novel. In addition, the characters were well-developed and well suited to each other. When I read Stealing Parker, I couldn’t help but compare these two similar books. For me, the characters, the relationship, and the plot didn’t measure up to Game On, which I rate four out of five stars.
I enjoyed reading Stealing Parker, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite YA contemporary. However, I still do want to read more of Miranda Kenneally’s books that feature a different plot. Since this book was good, but not my favorite, I rate it three out of five stars.