Review of Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

To be published on July 5, 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Summary from Goodreads: 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?

Review of Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

I'm a big Miranda Kenneally fan. Her teen characters always feel authentic to me, and I've always thought she has an ear (and a soft spot) for characters who could easily be judged and misunderstood. 

She lets her characters make huge mistakes and lets us watch them deal with the consequences, whether it's a character who abandons a friend or flirts with a teacher, or in Defending Taylor, who makes a noble gesture that has all kinds of repercussions.

Taylor isn't a character who's initially easy to relate to - she's a privileged daughter of a senator, a girl who has had every possible advantage. 

When she impulsively decides to lie to protect her boyfriend (a guy who, as the book quickly reveals, isn't really worthy of her sacrifice) she gets kicked out of school, throws her famous family into the spotlight, and pretty much blows her comfortable life to smithereens.

I was surprised, then, that Taylor has the strength of character to tough it out and suck up the consequences of what she's done. 

I liked the fact that the story directly addresses the tremendous pressure that today's high school students are under to perform -- at school, in sports and extracurriculars, and in college admissions. (Thank you, Miranda Kenneally, for doing research into the college admissions process. The mistakes that many authors make are obvious to teen readers!)

I was also really touched by Kenneally's afterword, in which she talks about her own (past) workaholic and perfectionist tendencies and how she worked to conquer them. 

This is an issue that not enough girls and women discuss openly - the pressure to look picture-perfect (and perpetually popular) on Instagram and never break a sweat while balancing work, school, friends, and family.

Defending Taylor is a great addition to the Hundred Oaks companion books. This is a total standalone, but readers of prior books will find fun cameos by some favorite past characters.


  1. I've been eyeballing this one. I haven't read any by her but this seems like a good summer read.

  2. Yayyy! I love it when an author does his/her research and does it well. This one's next up on my TBR and I'm excited to dive in ;)

  3. I just prepped my post for this one last night, so it's fun to see it up today here. I have really enjoyed this series and am looking forward to this one. I won't be reviewing it until closer to release. I have to agree too about all that pressure (100 times more than when I was in high school and much more competitive). Glad you liked it!

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

  4. Her books have so many fans, which is very promising, but I have yet to join the crowd. I actually own the first two books, I should probably find the time to give them a try. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

  5. I have this one coming up and it will be my first from her. I am really excited since everyone usually loves her books. The getting the research right on the college admissions is a nice touch. I will have to remember to read the afterword on this one. Great review!

  6. I've only read Catching Jordan from her, but I have this one for review, and I am really excited to read this one. As someone who stressed about the college applications process a lot in high school, I'm really excited to see a book portraying that, because that is something I've found sadly lacking in YA, when it is so incredibly pivotal and important in many teens' lives. Wonderful review!

    - Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

  7. I read this one and honestly, I just thought it was so-so. I could relate to Taylor, not in the rich part, but in the need to be perfect part. I don't know what it was about this one, but it just felt like it was missing something. Oh well. I am glad you loved it though!

  8. I've only read one by Kenneally (Breathe, Annie, Breathe) and I enjoyed it so much. It was one of those that delivered so much more than I expecting. Instead of light and fluffy I got surprising depth. So I'm eager to read more by her and Defending Taylor has been on my radar. I'm happy to see such a positive review and Taylor sounds like a character I'll enjoy and appreciate. Really enjoyed your review, Jen!


  9. This seems like such a relevant story where there is a lot of focus centered on pressure and having the strength to go through it. And I think that a lot of teenagers reading this one will be able to relate to that :D

  10. Huh, this isn't something that would've caught my attention, but now I really want to read it. Thanks, Jen :)

  11. Great review! I loved the afterword, too! Something felt off about this book for me compared to the other stellar books in the series but it had a great moral and some sweet scenes.

    my review


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