When I heard there was going to be a sequel to Waiting on the Sidelines, I was a little concerned. I wasn’t sure how much more Reed could screw up without losing the empathy of readers and the love of his life. Fortunately, Reed makes almost all the right moves in this book. Going Long is Nolan’s turn to make a lot of huge mistakes, learn from them, and try to get her life back on course.
Sidelines followed Nolan and Reed’s relationship from their freshman year of high school to their first semester of college. Going Long picks up in college with Nolan pursuing her special education degree and Reed struggling with the decision to stay in school or make himself eligible for the NFL draft. Complicating the relationship is the long distance separation, Nolan’s persistent insecurities, a potential new love interest, and a secret that builds and builds until all the lies and the distance implode and leave Nolan and Reed torn apart with no clear path of how to bridge the gap between them and find each other once again.
This is one of the rare sequels that I liked even more than the original (which I thoroughly enjoyed). I loved that we got to see things from Reed’s point of view. He has grown from the immature boy of Sidelines to a real man who makes mistakes and owns them, fumbles but recovers and keeps at it until he achieves what really matters. This Reed is a man worthy of the woman Nolan became at the end of Waiting on the Sidelines. I like that these characters feel like real people to me, even the supporting cast. I can see Buck in so many people I know. And I’ve known a few Millies in my life (I liked them about as much as Nolan did) and Sarah and Sienna are the friends we have who stick by us no matter what and call us out on our BS when needed. The believability of these characters makes them relatable and familiar.
Scott’s novel is a story about relationships and how, to summarize what Buck says, they knock you on your ass but the people you love make getting knocked on your ass worth it. Going Long is worth it too.