For What It's Worth

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: defending taylor (thousand Oaks) Miranda kenneally




22846823Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start? ~
 Goodreads

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review


Review:

Count on Miranda Kenneally and her Hundred Oaks series to pull me out of my reading funk. Defending Taylor was a delight and I breezed though it in a day.

Kenneally has such a gift for writing authentic teens, and more importantly, familial relationships. Drama without the llama. lol

On the surface Taylor has it all. She’s the daughter of a senator, attends private school, has great friends and a boyfriend and is headed to become captain of her soccer team.

Then she screws up big time and lies about it. As Taylor points out – it’s not so much the crime as the cover up that always makes things worse. Taylor makes a bad decision but for a (semi) good reason. Was it dumb? Yeah. But I could totally relate and empathize with her reasoning. 

Taylor loses everything. Her posh boarding school, her boyfriend, the trust and respect of her family, soccer but she never feels sorry for herself. She was planning to go to Yale and she stays focused on that goal, doing whatever she needs to get back on track. She joins her new school's soccer team even though they aren't nice to her and it's a huge step down from her old team. Instead she tries to make them a cohesive team and showcase the other players. She's a good kid that cracked under a lot of pressure.

Defending Taylor brings up a lot of topical subjects and would be the perfect book, if you’re a parent, to read with your teen. Taylor is under enormous pressure from her parents to do well but they aren’t cartoon villain parents. They love her and want the best for her but they’re caught up in their own drama her father’s reelection bid. This aspect was developed really well.

The author also touches on teen sexuality (very sex positive), classicism, learning disabilities, consequences and balance. Taylor works so hard to please everyone that she’s forgotten how to have fun and live.

The romance was cute. Eza is her brothers best friend, which for some reason is always this big taboo thing, and I honestly don’t get it. Aside from some initial awkwardness, if you can’t trust your best friend with your sister – why is he your best friend? But Kenneally handles this perfectly!

I can’t say I was bowled over by Ezra. He’s nice enough, but to be honest, I read Miranda Kenneally for her female protagonists. They struggle, they screw up but they push forward and stay true to themselves. I find that, and the family relationships, far more compelling than the romances even though they are always sweet and swoony.

Being a teen is tough and I think it’s great to have the Hundred Oaks series out there. They show that you can screw up or have bad things happen but still find your way back.

Plus! Cameos from previous couples Smile



23 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. As much as I love the series and recommend it - I don't think you would like it lol

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  2. This series must be really good. I guess I'm underestimating it because it's YA and a contemporary one at that

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    1. I think it's one of the better YA contemp series out there.

      Not super angsty or dark but honest teen problems.

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  3. oh yay for getting out of your reading funk!!! Those are the worst!!! especially when you want to love reading but can't. I see I need to grab this one up. I do love a story that deals with some tough subjects.

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    1. It's a really good series. And I love how it deals with both friendships and family. It's not ALL about a romance.

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  4. I love the name Ezra. haha Glad to hear this was another hit for you since you liked the author's previous works!

    -Lauren

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  5. Oh out of the reading funk? Niiiice! I need to read this one. I also love that it is not drama filled and the parentals are more accurate. This might be a good book to gift!

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    1. It wasn't my favorite of the series but the author is like a comfort read for me. I love how she includes family. They're usually MIA

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  6. Our library has just had a huge promotion on sports related fiction for the YA market and I was interested to note that this book was featured. Not entirely sure why as having read your review whilst it obviously does have a sports aspect to it, it certainly sounds like it has a lot more to offer.

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    1. I think it's one of the better YA contemporary series.

      Each of the female protagonists are involved in a sport - usually fighting stereotypes and sexism so it does play a big role but all her books have friends/family as a central theme.

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  7. I've read great things about this series, so I plan to borrow the first few books from the library to binge read one weekend.

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    1. Start from the top! It makes the cameos more fun :-)

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  8. I don't think this was my absolute favorite of her books, but I also love the way that her characters make authentic-feeling teenage mistakes and then have to figure out their mess....
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Agree. I think I liked the idea of how much her family was involved. The romance was pretty bleh.

      Another weird thing that I just sort of remembered lol is that the soccer was kind of just dropped near the end.

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  9. I didn't like this one all that much! I didn't connect with the protagonist at all, unfortunately. This was my first Kenneally read, so I'm not sure if I want to go back for more... but I've seen such great reviews for her previous books. So perhaps. :D

    I'm so glad you loved this one, Karen! Wonderful review. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. I would recommend Catching Jordan. It's my favorite of the series. I still liked this one but that book is better IMO.

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  10. I love this series and great review . She always does something different with the tropes :) I loved that she was smart but did something stupid lol

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  11. I love this series and great review . She always does something different with the tropes :) I loved that she was smart but did something stupid lol

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  12. Sounds like a cute book and a good series. She seems very popular but I'm afraid she'll be tooo contemporary YA for me if you know what I mean...

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  13. I love Miranda Kenneally and Defending Taylor was another great read. She usually tackles important issues (although never getting preachy), and social shame is pretty current. Taylor was very realistic, and I loved her journey.

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  14. Miranda writes such great stories. I've passed a couple along to my students, who always come back with glowing reviews & demands for more. Down with reading funks!

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