What it’s about:
They fell in love in high school and found their way back to one another despite the odds. But can first loves really be forever? For Reed Johnson, the dream was always football. But then Nolan Lennox took over his heart. Is he willing to give up his first love just to keep his true love? Or will he be too late?
Reed and Nolan’s story continues in “Going Long,” sequel to Waiting on the Sidelines.
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Going Long by Ginger Scott is an outstanding coming of age romance.
With a nice segue, Going Long picks up two years after Waiting on the Sidelines. Nolan and Reed are in a committed relationship, they attend different colleges in Arizona, but they use every free moment to see each other. Reed wants to enter the NFL draft at the end of his junior year while Nolan wants to stay put to finish her degree. She doesn’t want to change schools or depend on Reed financially if she were to go to wherever he is drafted. So full of insecurity and focused on what-if’s, Nolan’s stress and avoidance become epic as she convinces herself that they are doomed to break-up. It’s the first little tear in their seamless relationship. Subsequently, a life-changing event occurs, one that brings back high school nightmares for Nolan, and the angst and drama start, when she chooses not to confide in Reed.
The angst of Waiting on the Sidelines just about did me in, and I wasn’t prepared for the same level of angst in Going Long. In hindsight, that sounds naïve, because YA and NA romances are all about the angst. I loved Nolan in Waiting on the Sidelines, but I struggled to like her in Going Long. Nolan is still basically a good girl, but she didn’t show much growth in maturity from her high school days. Nolan makes one fundamental mistake over and over—she doesn’t trust Reed enough to communicate everything to him. Her insecurities mushroom into major league anxiety and depression that lead to some very poor decisions an unhealthy behavior. Here again, Ms. Scott tackles some very real college-student issues. Nolan’s one redeeming moment was her epiphany that her lack of trust is solely to blame for any problems she has had with Reed.
Reed left me wanting in Waiting on the Sidelines, but he grew up and got focused on what matters to him: Nolan and football, in that order. Going Long is told in a dual-POV narration, giving the reader a greater insight into the inner workings of Reed Johnson. Going Long is Reed’s moment to shine as the mature one, the one who has it together, the one who resuscitates the relationship.
Speaking of that resuscitation, part of the major drama is an unopened voicemail. Much of the plot teeters on that pivotal voicemail. It does take a big stretch of the imagination, but sometimes a small seemingly insignificant thing can cause a wide circle of ripples. Beyond that, Going Long is a highly relatable, college romance. The stress of a long distance relationship, increasingly demanding schoolwork, and other forces and temptations chipping away at the fulcrum of a relationship are very realistic.
Honorable mentions to Buck, Reed’s bigger-than-life and full-of-love dad as well as to his long-term assistant, Rosie. Along with Nolan’s parents, they are role models for acceptance and love. Sean, Sienna, Sara and Trigg are stalwart supporters of Nolan and Reed, and the two couldn’t have survived daily life without these incredible friends. Millie and Dylan, Reed’s mother and brother, are the poster children for uptight social climbers everywhere. Ginger Scott has never created two more unlikable characters!
Going Long, is about what it takes to go the distance in a relationship—both friendships and romances. Ms. Scott’s messages about communication, stress and mental health are excellent conversation starters for parents and younger readers. This book cannot be read as a stand-alone novel—at least not with the same level of character understanding or plot appreciation. Both Waiting on the Sidelines and Going Long are excellent listens on audiobook (as long as your heart will take the emotionally-gutting roller coaster relationship).
Fabulous audio book narrators:
Review of Book 1 in the series: Review: Waiting on the Sidelines by Ginger Scott