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?
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The description on Goodreads for Waiting on the Sidelines is crazy long. I’ve cut it here because I don’t want it to be longer than my review.
When, upon starting her freshman year of high school, tomboy Nolan hears Reed and some older kids making fun of her for “dressing like a dude,” she decides to change her look. Of course, on her first day of wearing a skirt, she falls and scrapes up her knees.
It seems like so many characters are described as tomboys but you never really see that side of them other than maybe their clothes (and there’s usually a makeover that takes care of that). That’s not the case with Nolan. She’s a true tomboy. She does start dressing up a little more, wearing makeup and dresses occasionally, but she still seems most comfortable in her tomboy clothes. She’s also interested in a variety of sports. She plays volleyball, runs track, and works as a lifeguard. She can talk sports too, sometimes using her father and brother and Google to help her out a little.
I like that even though Nolan harbors a crush on Reed for a long, long time, she doesn’t just sit around waiting for him. She goes out, she has friends, she’s a good student and athlete, she has a job, she even has a boyfriend. It’s a full life. Her relationship with the other guy (who I won’t name because I don’t want to spoil anyone) actually makes me like her a little bit less, because she knows she likes Reed even before agreeing to go out with the other guy and she continues to pine for Reed the whole time she and the other guy are together. I felt bad for the boy.
I hadn’t been a very good girlfriend, I thought. In fact, I was pretty sure I had been nothing but cold towards [him] since the winter dance. I knew sometime soon I had to come clean with my feelings and end it with him, but I also dreaded leaving the safety of our relationship.
And then the reason she stayed with the other guy for so long kind of makes sense. It’s still not fair or healthy, but Nolan is hardly the only girl (or guy) ever to stay with someone while liking someone else. I know I’m just making excuses. I just really like this book and Nolan, okay? It’s like when you can forgive a friend for something but you wouldn’t forgive someone you don’t like for doing the same thing. Unfortunately, Nolan doesn’t really learn from this and has to go through it a second time. I have less sympathy for her then.
What can I say about Reed? At times he’s a great guy: sweet, fun, caring. At times he’s an ass: selfish, moody, a jerk. It’s about a 50/50 split which Reed will show up at any given time. I wish Nolan would have stood up to him a little more. I feel like she almost puts him on a pedestal and then doesn’t know how to react when he shows the other side of himself. She puts up with way more drama from him than I would have, but I take solace and enjoyment in the fact that he suffers for it.
Through it all, Nolan has some great friends and parents she can rely on. Yes, it’s true! This is a YA book with parents who are present. They aren’t always a part of the story, but they’re both definitely a part of Nolan’s life. Reed’s parents are divorced and his dad (who he lives with) is a little more absent, but he’s involved in Reed’s life, too, and he’s very welcoming to Nolan.
This book is like a comfort read. There’s nothing really new here, but Nolan is such a good, relatable character. I really liked watching her grow up over the four years of high school. I had just about perfect timing with this book. The sequel, Going Long, will be out on October 1.