Personal Thoughts: I read Catching Jordan, the first book in the Hundred Oaks series last year but I had been hesitant going into it because in my own personal life, I could not care less about sports. As it turns out, I love sports anime and contemporary romances where sports play a part. I think what I’ve learned here is that if real life sports games had more monologues and less play time, I would probably enjoy those as well. I was excited to start Stealing Parker because one of my reading goals for the year is to catch up on the Hundred Oaks series and because this book focuses on softball. I played softball from third grade through my junior year of high school (when I wanted to spend more time with my friends so I purposely threw the tryouts since my parents forced me into them despite my disinterest). There ended up being a lot more baseball than softball but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I even loved it more than Catching Jordan!
Plot Summary: Stealing Parker is about a girl name Parker who has a very complicated life. Her mother came out and left her family and she hasn’t been handling the fallout well ever since. Parker is shunned by her best friend, the people at her church turn on her and in order to dispel rumors that she’s like her mother, she ends up kissing a few more boys than she cares to. Things get even more complicated when she becomes the manager for the boys baseball team and starts taking an interest in her very adult coach.
Critique: I really enjoyed this one! Stealing Parker was not at all what I had been expecting, I’ve never read a YA contemporary romance where religion plays such a huge role. I love that Parker begins to question everything she’s been taught once the people at her church turn their back on her and her family over the “scandal” involving her mom. It’s not just a coming of age novel in the general sense but it also focuses on finding yourself spiritually. Each person in Parker’s family is handling everything differently so this is in no way, a cute fluffy contemporary. It covers everything from underage relationships to slut shaming to drug abuse to eating disorders to best friend break ups and more. Parker ends up making a slew of bad decisions while going through her depression and as I’m sure you can imagine, things continue to spiral downward into even more of a mess before a resolution is reached. I absolutely adored the romance in this book (and no, not the sleazy teacher / student relationship). My only complaint is about Parker’s best friend Drew. His piece of the puzzle was a little ridiculous to me because of certain circumstances but overall, that didn’t hinder my opinion at all.
Do I Recommend?: Yes! Stealing Parker is the second book in the Hundred Oaks series but it’s not at all necessary to read these books in order. There are cameos of characters from the first book, but they wouldn’t be noticeable if you aren’t familiar with their story and you don’t need any background information on them to enjoy what’s currently going on.