(U.S. link: Waiting on the Sidelines )
Published: April 2013, Ginger Scott
Nolan Lennox had always been pretty comfortable growing up. Sure, her name was unusual, but her dad's favourite baseball player had been Nolan Ryan, and her parents thought they were pregnant with a boy, so the name kind of stuck. Living in a large trailer also never bothered her much, for one thing, it was plenty big enough and it wasn't as if they were poor. She always had everything she needed, maybe no designer clothes, but she didn't care about those anyway, she was much more comfortable in cutoffs and a tee.
But all of that changed the moment she went to high school, and she caught that cute new Johnson kid making fun of her clothes and her name with some of the others. For the first time she started comparing herself to others and seeing herself in an unfavourable light.
When Reed Johnson came to the same high school his brother had attended, he knew expectations on him were high. His father had been a football great in his day and his brother had been a local football hero, and Reed was expected to follow in his footsteps as the star quarterback. And initially, he does exactly that, he hangs out with the 'in' crowd, parties with the jocks and scores with the prettiest girls, just like his brother would have done. But all the time, his heart is not in it, he feels he is playing a role, and there is only one person who sees him for what he really is and that is Nolan.
Nolan was so different from most of the other girls, she played by the rules; didn't drink and wasn't promiscuous, she always seemed kind and helpful, and Reed always felt better being around her. Somehow, despite their differences, Nolan and Reed are finding their way to each other, but people around them don't always make that easy. And when peer pressure, jealousy and teenage cruelty keep cutting into an already fragile bond, before long the damage becomes permanent.
Oh my......do you know how long it has been since I have cried over a book?? I am 50 years old, I have 3 adult children and one (almost adult) teenager, and apparently...I remember my own teenage years, quite vividly! It didn't take many pages into this book, to bring me back there.......
So good, so well written.....and for an audience that spans generations....obviously!
Nolan's struggles to stay true to herself, despite the draw to be 'seen' by the hottest guy in school, to feel the same as her peers, who perhaps grew up more privileged than she. Nolan fights to stay the kind and friendly girl she always was, regardless of the hateful and cruel things that are done to her, she never lowers herself to that level. She does not give herself cheaply, even though everyone else is having sex around her, Nolan is only willing to test the waters, but won't dive in until she knows the person she is with is the right one.
Reed's struggle is with becoming his own person, making his own choices and stepping in his own shoes, instead of trying to fill the shoes of others and hiding behind their behaviour to justify his. He needs to become true to himself and not follow the path of least resistance, but learn to follow the right path for him. His faith in himself has always been less than Nolan's faith in him.
There is so much growth in this story......and therefore so much pain. the first cannot occur without the second. Hence my crying, I remember myself, and then I remember each one of my children, and I am grateful we all came out the other side.
There is nothing as real and as deeply experienced as the feelings of a teenager in transition. It puts the calluses on our hearts. And Ginger Scott nailed it......right on the head!