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Friday, July 8, 2016

Lefty's Lowdown: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
(Hundred Oaks companion series)
Published: July 5, 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own.
Summary from Goodreads: 
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?
 I've only read one other book by Miranda Kenneally, but I knew to expect a fairly light contemporary read from this book. That's exactly what I got, so I should be pleased, right? Well...I don't know. I wanted more from this novel, if I'm being honest. There were some parts that made me smile, and then there were parts that made me roll me eyes. All in all, I'd say this was a meh read for me.

Taylor's dad is a senator, and her siblings are "perfect" and successful so she strives to be too. She goes to this fancy private school and has a 4.2 GPA, is the captain of the soccer team, and basically has a flawless resume. Then, she takes the blame for something stupid that her boyfriend Ben (who is on scholarship at the private school) did, thinking her dad would be able to keep her from getting kicked out. He doesn't. So, she gets kicked out and has to go to *gasp* public school, meanwhile destroying her father's political career and bottling up the truth about what Ben did so she doesn't get labeled a snitch.

So, one of my least favorite plot lines in YA is the whole "Oh, I regret lying about something but it's too late to tell anyone the truth because that will just make things worse." NO NO NO. Maybe it's because I'm an honest-to-a-fault type of person, but I just think this trope is stupid and unnecessary. Which brings me back to the primary plot point in this novel. I just got so irritated that Taylor refused to tell anyone the truth about Ben. I don't see how being honest with her boyfriend or her family would have made the situation worse. There was no justification that made sense to me.

Ignoring the shaky foundation of the story, I liked Taylor well enough, but she wasn't the most interesting narrator. She loves soccer and dogs and she was pretty much perfect except for getting kicked out of school and lying about the whole situation. Ezra, the love interest, was okay too. He was really sweet. The problem is that this novel was very glossed-over. I feel like there wasn't a whole lot of depth to anything, so I had trouble connecting to the characters or really caring about them a whole lot. So, like I said, Ezra was okay. His and Taylor's relationship was cute and had some moments that made me smile, but it all felt very rushed. I liked them together, though.

My favorite part of this novel was the family dynamics. Their family was not perfect. They got mad at each other, but at the end of the day, you could see the love they had for one another, and that's what's important. I was really happy with the way everything ended in this regard.

If this book had been longer and more fleshed out, I probably would have enjoyed it much more. As it is, Defending Taylor felt rushed and a little superficial. It makes a good quick, fluffy read, though. It was easy to just get lost in it for an hour or so, and I came away from it feeling good.

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