Title: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
Hundred Oaks Series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
There are no mistakes in love.
Captain 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?
Miranda Kenneally’s newest release, Defending Taylor, is a young adult contemporary that deals with some very relevant topics such as prescription drug abuse, intended and unintended consequences of decisions and family expectations.
Seventeen year old Taylor Lukens is the overachieving daughter of a Senator who is expelled from her exclusive private school after she impulsively takes the blame for something her boyfriend is responsible for. Now attending the local public high school, she is struggling with the repercussions from her decision after the scandal becomes public knowledge. With her father’s chances for re-election slipping, she feels a little abandoned by her family when they distance themselves from her publicly. With college deadlines looming, Taylor is slowly realizing her family’s expectations for her future are not necessarily what she wants but she is not sure she can disappoint them considering how her recent actions have affected them. It is not until she reconnects with her former crush, Ezra Carmichael, that she finds the courage to stand up for what she wants, but will Taylor convince him to do the same?
As the youngest child in the family, Taylor feels an enormous amount of pressure to follow the same path as her older siblings. Expected to attend an Ivy League college and work in her family’s business after graduation, she is extremely focused on padding her college resume with extracurricular activities and volunteer work while maintaining a high GPA and acing her SATs. Unfortunately, some of her classes do not come easy to her and she spends an inordinate amount of time studying so she sometimes pops Ritalin when she is feeling stressed about doing well on exams and assignments. With such a strong desire to live up to her family’s expectations, Taylor never really deviates from the path they have set for her but after she begins attending Hundred Oaks, she reevaluates her plans for the future but can she disappoint her family again?
Taking the semester off from college amid objections from his father, Ezra is well aware what can happen when personal dreams conflict with family expectations. Taylor cannot help but feel there is more to his decision than he is willing to admit to her, but she has no choice but to back off when he asks her to. Ezra understands what she is going through with her parents but since she once had a crush on him and he broke her heart a few years ago, she is quite hesitant to resume their friendship. Once Taylor moves past her initial reservations, it is clear the spark between them burns brighter than ever but will she risk her heart again?
Defending Taylor is a captivating young adult novel with a compelling storyline and an appealing cast of characters. Miranda Kenneally has an engaging writing style and she never hesitates to tackle some difficult subject matter. A heartwarming story that I recommend to readers of all ages, this latest addition to the Hundred Oak series can be read as a standalone.