Title: Defending Taylor
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review
Taylor is just about perfect: captain of the soccer team, president of the debate club, contender for valedictorian, senator’s daughter. But one impulsive lie to protect someone she cares about completely changes her life. She’s kicked out of her private school, her parents are no longer proud of her, and her future at Yale is in jeopardy.
Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape, but it’s hard to fit in on the Hundred Oaks High team. 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 Ezra has his own secrets, and it’s hard to trust after being betrayed.
I’ve been wanting to read a Miranda Kenneally book for so long. I see them everywhere and they have such cute sporty covers. If I haven’t mentioned it before I love books with sport subplots. And when I saw her newest book was about soccer (my favorite sport) I just couldn’t wait any longer.
Taylor is a flawed protagonist. She spends too much time trying to be perfect in the pursuit of her studies and extracurriculars. She’s always looking to the future and not spending enough time in the present, or thinking about what she really wants. She holds things back she probably shouldn’t. But over the course of the novel she really develops—due in part to her time with Ezra and at Hundred Oaks High. I thought while Taylor was a bit extreme she was also a realistic portrayal of a teenager.
I really liked Ezra. He comes from the same background as Taylor—rich parents, privilege, and private school. But he has made a decision to give that up for his happiness. He’s just an overall great presence in Taylor’s life. I also like how they have some history, it’s nice to see it rehashed and for the miscommunications to be righted.
Then there’s the Hundred Oaks soccer team. The captain is a ball hog, the coach never gets off his phone, and practices last all of thirty minutes. Taylor really struggles fitting in and having fun playing. As someone who’s played soccer I loved seeing the team dynamic—even if it is horrible.
That being said, there were some faults with the book and its characters. Mainly, the reason Taylor is in all this trouble is so stupid. She covers for Ben—her then boyfriend—after some teachers find Adderall in his backpack. Ben’s a scholarship kid and she knows he needs the opportunities their boarding school provides.
She on the other hand is a senator’s daughter, and she’s hoping her father’s name will get her a slap on the wrist at most. But she gets kicked out and jeopardizes her father’s re-election. Like I could see that she was trying to help someone she loved, but she was also hurting someone she loved. Plus, drugs are serious. Taylor could’ve gone to juvie. And once she did realize the consequences her and her family faced she still didn’t fess up. Moral of the story, honesty is the best policy.
Defending Taylor has some problems. It’s not a life changing read. But it is a fun, quick, sporty contemporary that’s perfect for a summer or day read. You can find it on Amazon and the author at mirandakenneally.com. Give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments. Plus leave recommendations for my next book!