Parker Prescott is in love. The only problem is, she just broke up with the boy in question and now she’s realised that she made a huge mistake. She’s pretty sure he’d still take her back, but what about the reason they broke up in the first place? He was getting way too pushy about the whole sex thing and Parker wanted to wait till he told her that he loved her before doing the deed. But now she wants him back so badly that she thinks she’s willing to go all the way, and not just for him either; Parker craves his body, his lips and his hands.
One day he shows up at her house when her family is out, and the hanky panky starts. Parker allows him to handcuff her to a chair in her father’s office, and as he’s unbuttoning her shirt and loosening her bra, Parker’s mother and father get home early, busting them in the act. Parker is grounded indefinitely, and so starts the beginning of all her problems.
Marion Hennessy – Parker’s arch nemesis – is out to get Parker, and writes a whole bunch of nasty, untrue stuff about Parker and her man on her blog. Everyone reads it and suddenly Parker’s relationship is the centre of speculation and gossip. To make things worse, Parker realises that she has some very hot competition. Kandace – Marion’s friend – has it bad for Parker’s man and is doing everything in her power to steal his affections. This launches Parker into a world of self-doubt and unrest. Will Parker sleep with her boyfriend to keep him, or will wait until she gets what she wants from him first?
Being inside Parker’s head was a real pleasure, for very odd reasons. Parker is an ordinary girl. She’s smart, but she’s average looking. She’s a bit of a wallflower and certainly not part of the popular crowd, but her boyfriend is. I really love that the girl-next-door, the girl that no one thought would snag the most desirable and sought after boy in school, does. However, what I like about Parker Prescott the most, is that she could be me, or you, or the girl sitting next to you. This gives hope to all ordinary girls everywhere that they can do, and have, what they want too. Parker makes ordinary look extraordinary.
Parker’s character surreptitiously highlights some important issues for teen girls everywhere. Because everyone else wants to date her boyfriend, Parker is constantly questioning his motives. The gossip often gets the better of her and every now and then she finds herself believing the gossip articles about her that appear on Marion’s blog. Is there really a bet out on her virginity; is that the real reason why he wants to sleep with her. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t said he loves her yet. Is he sleeping with Kandace behind her back, as Marion wants her to believe? Parker lacks self-confidence, which is a big problem that a lot of teens face today. If Parker were more sure of herself she’d be able to have more faith in her allure, more faith in her man. Like so many girls, Parker can’t see her own assets because she is blinded by everyone else’s best characteristics. Handcuffs highlights the complexities of navigating your way through the day-to-day problems associated with attending high school; I don’t know a single person on the entire planet that can’t relate to that in some way or another.
Readers never learn what Parker’s boyfriend’s name actually is. Parker never says it, nor do any of the other characters in the novel. I really like this technique, as it allowed me to shape my own version of him. Because he is nameless, because there are very few physical descriptions given, readers can construct him in their own desirable terms. I found myself questioning his movtives, as Parker did, but just like Parker, I was unable to hate him. Ultimately, I wanted him as much as she does. As the novel comes to a close, readers are exposed to the truth; I was biting my nails all the way till the end.
Handcuffs is Bethany Griffin’s first novel and she captures the essence of adolescence superbly. Her characters are believable, raw, honest and absolutely engaging. Teenage girls everywhere will be able to relate to Parker’s pain and angst, her self-doubt and her hormonal desires. yaReads offers a huge round of applause to Bethany Griffin for an awesome debut novel. We look forward to more work from her in the future.