By: Miranda Kenneally
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon
Goodreads Summary: 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?
First Thought After Finishing: I’ve missed Miranda Kenneally’s books and her wonderfully relatable characters.
Sometimes you read a book that just fits your day or your current situation even when you weren’t expecting it. Defending Taylor happened to be just that. Miranda Kenneally’s books deal with issues that go beyond the high school setting or the sports field and speak to different phases of life.
Taylor is a senior in high school, captain of her soccer team, and Yale-bound. Her father, a US Senator from Tennessee, has tried to instill the best values in her and holds her to high standards. However, one major mistake lands Taylor expelled from her boarding school and attending Hundred Oaks High. She has to try and put her life back together if she wants to get into Yale, and she has to do it without her best friends and boyfriend, all while handling her family’s disappointment. As Taylor tries to get back on track, she begins to wonder if her father’s track is really the right one for her.
"What do I expect of myself? I have no clue. I’ve never felt so lost, but the more I think about it, I wonder if I’ve ever actually found myself to begin with. Maybe I’ve always been lost."
One of the reasons that I love YA books is that I enjoy the self-discovery stories. Taylor’s story was no exception. She’s courageous as she challenges the expectations from her family and herself. She learns that some things are beyond her control, there is such a thing as too little, too late, but sometimes we can only make the best of what we have. In the process of finding herself, she realizes that it’s okay to be passionate about what she wants and to try and make her own happiness. It’s a quality that I admire.
Another thing I love about Miranda’s books is that the characters are always more than they seem. And even when we don’t see a character very much, we still get to know them. For instance, Taylor’s love interest, Ezra, is a guy that we all hope to have. Like Taylor, he’s trying to make his own path, but there is more to his story than simple rebellion against his parents. I enjoyed watching the two of them develop a relationship that was meaningful. Taylor’s soccer friends and family also play a role in the book. It was refreshing to see such a well-rounded picture of life, very real, encouraging, and sweet.
Most Memorable Aspect: Taylor’s morning conversations with Ezra. I love that they cared enough about each other to talk about hard things.