Nolan Lennox had things figured out. Named after a baseball legend, she enjoyed being the Tomboy, her closet filled with her brother’s hand-me-downs, cut-off jeans and soccer shorts. But when her first trip to high school results in a broken heart from the first boy to ever make her heart flutter and cruel words from an older girl she once thought a family friend, Nolan starts to question the very person she thought she was and wonders if her humble upbringing can compete with the afforded luxuries of her privileged peers.
Throughout the next four years, Nolan struggles to maintain herself throughout her path of discovery, learning just how cruel teenagers can be through the pressures of underage drinking, sexuality and class. And despite how life seems to continue to work against her, she still manages to listen to her heart, falling deeper and deeper for the guy the entire town adores, even if he only sees her as a friend. Can Nolan strike a compromise between her own integrity and the boy she loves? And can she make him notice her before it’s too late?
Reed Johnson came to Coolidge High School with a lot of fanfare. The son of a hometown football legend and the brother of a local football hero, Reed wore all the pressures of carrying a town without hope into the spotlight. Thankfully, he had the talent to back it up. But when he meets a girl who makes him think twice about exactly what being a hero means, he starts to wonder if following in his brother’s footsteps might be all wrong.
Nolan Lennox was everything that was opposite of expected. She didn’t flirt, she didn’t drink and she didn’t sleep around. Nothing about her was easy, but something about her made Reed want to try harder. Though she didn’t look the part, she seemed to be spending a lot of time in Reed’s thoughts, and he wondered if she could be the one who made it all worthwhile. But could Reed handle letting her down? And would breaking her heart break him beyond repair?
Waiting on the Sidelines explores young love to its fullest, exposing how real young heartbreak and passion is and how important it is to discover yourself and hold onto your own identity. The story follows two young characters as they deal with mature situations, including the prevalence of bullying and promiscuity in today’s high school setting. Ultimately, Waiting on the Sidelines is a story of hope, honesty and those powerful, first true loves–the ones worth holding onto at any cost.
3.5 stars — Well crap. I can’t even tell you how bummed I am right now. This book started off AMAZINGLY. Like, I stupidly started it at midnight (I know, but I couldn’t get my brain to sleep), and then I proceeded to stay up til 4am reading — THAT kind of amazingly. Like, amazingly enough that I gushed on Facebook about it. But little things that bothered me kept building up and building up until I was left with an ending that was so unsatisfying for me. I’m so sad right now. 😦
OK, so we’re going to sprinkle the good with the bad, b/c each aspect of the story had both for me.
Nolan was initially my kind of girl. I love reading about insecure heroines (I know, kind of weird, but I can relate). But she was so strong in other ways as well. And this was truly a coming of age story. She made some cringeworthy decisions at times, but it also felt authentic to a teenage experience (even if I don’t want that to be true). She bowed to peer pressure on occasion, right from the very start…she wasn’t immune to the horrible things other teenagers can say and do. I actually loved this part. Because you know what? Not every teen girl is strong and can brush that stuff off. Especially early on in high school. And I did get to see some growth there, she had strong moments and weak moments and vacillated between them in the way that often happens when a person is growing up. So while I *hated* some of the things she did (mostly wrt her romantic relationships), I initially forgave her because I expected growth and change. The problem is, I didn’t quite get enough growth and change to satisfy me. Mostly wrt her relationship with Reed. So while I actually celebrated the growth we did see — I adored the passion she developed with Nancy, and her memoir was beautiful — it wasn’t enough to make up for what ended up being a very unhealthy relationship that she continually pursued.
And that’s where the major problem lies for me in this book. I ended up hating the romance. There were glimmers in the beginning that had me sooooo excited. I truly felt Nolan’s crush on Reed, and I could even see his feelings for her. I found it so intriguing to read about Nolan’s high school journey and how her relationship with Reed changed over those years. I kind of liked that it was initially unrequited, but that there was a strong friendship there. But at a certain point I wanted to see more of what was keeping them interested in each other. Again, I wanted growth and change, and I didn’t quite get that. Reed had these glimmers of goodness, and the summer after sophomore year looked like it was going to be amazeballs! I had so many tummy tingles, and I had forgiven him for his teenaged choices earlier. I was just happy. I knew it wouldn’t last, but I was not expecting what happened. Or rather, I sort of was, but this time I was disappointed (there had been some other predictable plot choices earlier on, but I was fine with them). The main reason I was disappointed was lack of communication. I *hate* when the whole reason things don’t work is a lack of communication. It’s so unrealistic to me that Reed wouldn’t have yelled out the reason right away. Or that someone else wouldn’t have told Nolan.
And at that point, the romance spiraled out of control for me. Not saying there weren’t good moments, but it stopped being enough. Reed was a dick. I could forgive earlier moments, but when he continued to make horrible and hurtful choices without learning and changing, his apologies didn’t end up feeling sincere. I felt like Nolan bent over backwards for him, and that’s just not healthy. It made Nolan look a bit more doormat-like, and it made Reed more and more unredeemable.
(This paragraph might be a bit spoilerish, so please stop reading if you haven’t read the book and still want to) I still held out hope though. I sincerely did. I vacillated between two major desires for an ending. I WANTED that redemption for Reed, or I wanted it to not be a HEA for Reed and Nolan. And I got neither. I actually was leaning more towards the second scenario, and then this book really would have been more of a coming of age. I wanted Nolan to realize that while she might love Reed, it wasn’t healthy for her and it never would be. I wanted her to love herself more. I wanted her to go to College and find a better love, and know that Reed would be her first, but that she deserved better. BUT, if I couldn’t have that, then I wanted Reed to understand that he needed help. Because he did. He was unhealthy. He had goodness in him, but he wasn’t treating Nolan well. I at least needed him to truly change and make a grand gesture. A hat is not a grand gesture. And he should have been mortified that he had made Nolan believe she was at fault. I needed to *see* him change before I could give him another chance.
(OK, end spoilers) I enjoyed a lot of the secondary characters though. I found her best friends to be interesting, and I almost wish she had listened to them more (especially Sienna, she seems to have a good head on her shoulders). I really loved Sean (and eventually Becky), and that *really* pleasantly surprised me. And I loved most of the parents in this story. Nolan’s were actually pretty good people, and pretty tapped into her. And then there was Buck. I wanted more from him for *Reed*, but I guess I can’t say what kind of conversations they had since we never had Reed’s POV. But I LOVED what he was for Nolan. He was a big pleasant surprise.
So yeah. A super strong start, but for me it was mired with an unhealthy relationship, an unredeemable hero, and too many problems that boiled down to communication. So, basically, bummer. And reading the bad reviews for the next book, it sounds like more miscommunications, so I won’t be continuing on.