And we’re back for another YA author spotlight! Now that we’ve covered many of the well-known staples of the genre, I really want to look at some that maybe aren’t as well known. And Kenneally is one of my favorites.
Most Popular Titles: Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Things I Can’t Forget
Debut Novel: Catching Jordan (2011)
Most Recent Release: Four Days of You and Me (2020), with the upcoming The Pick-Up set for release in September 2021.
Most of Kenneally’s career so far has been writing the Hundred Oaks “series”. I loosely call it a series because, though many characters do overlap, you really don’t have to read any of them in any particular order. Years pass between a lot of the books, so it’s not even like they’re super connected.
What’s really cool about those books, though, is that they all focus on different athletic girls. I feel like there is a dearth of them in YA. If you want girls who are physically strong and athletic, you usually have to go to fantasy. And that’s just sad. But these girls know what they want, whether it’s a girl playing football (Jordan), a swimmer wanting to make the Olympics (Maggie), or a girl running to honor the memory of her ex-boyfriend (Annie). Sports become a motivation for most of them–but not all.
Now that the Hundred Oaks series is finished, Kenneally is starting to branch out with newer YA contemporary stories. She’s only actually released one book like that so far, so it’s kind of hard to know how she’s going to write from here on out, but Four Days of You and Me was definitely different from the Hundred Oaks feel. In that book, we follow two high school students on their class field trip that happens on the same day every year, watching their hatred turn to friendship turn to love. It was sweet, if a little jumpy at times from the constantly moving timeline.
But if you enjoy Kasie West’s brand of YA romance, you’ll be just fine with Kenneally. The stories tend to be fairly short and quick reads while still being hard-hitting and emotional. They deal with darker topics at times (nothing I can share without spoiling stuff), but you really do get pulled in. The characters are always great.
My First Kenneally Read: Catching Jordan. I was a goner as soon as I learned it was a story about a girl who played football, fighting for her spot on the team. I read this years ago, but as someone who grew up playing backyard football with the guys, this was one of the first books I’d read where I felt seen in that capacity. Even now, I still see very few books about girls and football.
Her Complete Collection:
- Catching Jordan (2011)
- Stealing Parker (2012)
- Things I Can’t Forget (2013)
- Racing Savannah (2013)
- Breathe, Annie, Breathe (2014)
- Jesse’s Girl (2015)
- Defending Taylor (2016)
- Coming Up for Air (2017)
- Four Days of You and Me (2020)
- The Pick-Up (Sept. 2021)
I can honestly say I’ve read every one of Kenneally’s released books and I have enjoyed all of them. They’re fun, they’re different, and they’re easy lazy-day reads. Enjoy!