In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for From The Sideline
by author Amy Avanzino
From The Sideline by Amy Avanzino
Book 2: The Wake-Up Series
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Format: Paperback - 276 pages
Kindle - 774 KB
Nook - 556 KB
Genre: Chick Lit / Romantic Comedy / Women's Fiction
Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble
Buy The Series: The Wake-Up Series
Book 1: Wake Up Call
Book 2: From The Sideline
Barnes & Noble
I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
After losing her marriage, life savings, and waistline, Autumn Kovac is terrified of being hit by more heartache. So when her only child decides to try out for the football team, the overprotective, sports-illiterate mom has a near phobic reaction. But Zachary hasn’t smiled since his father left, and she’s desperate to make him happy (and doing nothing and hoping for the best hasn’t been working). She reluctantly enters a new world of youth competitive sports, full of overzealous coaches with Vince Lombardi dreams and fanatical parents trying to achieve vicarious glory.
Unexpectedly, Autumn begins transforming within this strangely addictive new culture, finding her voice, facing her past, tackling her fears…and uncovering the secret that’s been keeping her from her son. After meeting her ideal catch, she finds herself back in the dating game and discovers some fierce competition of her own. Will Autumn make it off the sideline? Can the underdog finally win?
Praise for From The Sideline:
“Avanzino has written a story of motherhood. Every word is one of love, of sacrifice, and of surprising depth. I absolutely adored it.” – Gretchen Archer, USA Today Bestselling Author of Double Knot
"Amy Avanzino is one seriously funny and smart writer. Her wry and winning voice is reminiscent of Liane Moriarty.
FROM THE SIDELINE is a wildly entertaining novel about the world of competitive youth sports, and I laughed on every page." --Karin Gillespie, national bestselling author of the Bottom Dollar Girl series
"Sparkles with wry humor and will keep you laughing and cheering for this mom-and-son team." --Jackie Bouchard, USA Today Bestselling Author of House Trained
"Heartwarming, tender, and funny as hell--FROM THE SIDELINE is a lot more than a football story: about parenting, friendships, and the courage to take yourself off the bench and get back in the game. Avanzino will have you cheering!" --Phoebe Fox, author of the Breakup Doctor series and writer for Elite Daily
"A great story that never slowed down with twists around every corner." --Holly Rust, contributing writer for The Huffington Post, The TODAY Show Parenting Team, Scary Mommy, Women's Prospects, and Mother's Guide to Sanity
"FROM THE SIDELINE was just like being handed a perfect sundae - an indulgence that leaves a smile on your face. Amy Avanzino takes a typical setting and cast of characters (i.e. suburban life) and elevates it to an experience. Deftly written in candid honesty and humor, she perfectly captures what it is to be a mom and a woman. Sometimes I had to double-check the name of a character because it felt like she was writing about somebody I know.” –Theresa Murphy, reviewer
“5 out of 5 stars…I loved it!” -Comfy Reading
“I most appreciated Avanzino's ability to put into words the complex feelings of parenting. Rather than coming off as sappy or preachy or pitying, it is a fresh and honest interpretation that readers can relate to. She also captures the essence of woman friendships, that thing that keeps most moms afloat when they're ready to sink.” –The Pensive Missive
"FROM THE SIDELINE packs an emotional punch in the best way. Laughter, tears, heartache and joy all combine for a truly touching read." - Laura Nagore, 125Pages reviewer
“I loved the story, but loved Avanzino's voice even more. She writes with a snarky wit that had me laughing out loud (seriously, on the beach, people turned & looked at me!) and a vulnerability that all moms feel. I highly recommend this heartwarming and funny bone tickling story, and I'm placing Avanzino on my favorites list!” -Goodreads Reviewer, 5 out of 5 stars
"An absolute delight - funny, sharp, and full of heart. From the Sideline kept me laughing and, more importantly, Amy Avanzino kept me turning the pages. I can't wait to read whatever she brings next." --The Girl with Book Lungs Blog
“I loved this book and I love the author's writing style…There were some pages I read twice just because I loved how funny and honest they were. She can make you laugh and cry on the same page. Her humor and storytelling grab you in the beginning and you don't want to let go! I highly recommend this book and make sure to read Wake Up Call as well! I can't wait to read what she writes next!” -NetGalley Reviewer
I'm not the kind of person who likes to sweat, run, or exert myself in anyway-unless I'm being chased by an angry mob threatening to tear my limbs off - but even then, I'd probably just lay down and hope for the best.
out is a cruel and inexplicable punishment.
It’s literally the consequence
given at a military school to high risk juveniles for delinquent behavior. To drop down and give some irate commanding
officer twenty push-ups after he yells in your face. Push-ups are not something I’d ever do
voluntarily, when instead I could, say, watch television, eat a taco, hang with
girlfriends, read a book, virtually anything else would be better than wielding
Don’t get me wrong, I would die to have Jennifer
Aniston’s body, but, nonetheless, I would not diet or exercise.
still have post-traumatic flashbacks of times I was forced into acts of
physical fitness. The images of dodging
balls, and that impossible climb to the top of the gymnasium, followed
by the rope-burning descent, still gives me nightmares. I can’t forget the disappointed faces of the
captains who got stuck with me on their kickball teams. Not being able to live up to the expectations
of our beloved President, in that impossible physical-fitness challenge,
no-doubt turned me into the maladjusted adult I am today. These experiences are unquestionably the root
to all of my insecurities.
when my only son announced that he wanted to try out for the local youth
football team, it left me with feelings of confusion. How can the fruit fall so far from the tree?
impossible to get comfortable on a metal bench that is conducting heat and
blistering my thighs. Gnats are swirling
around my head. The grass has just been
cut so my eyes are swollen and my nose begins to drip. This mid-summer heat is unbearable. Beads of sweat grow until perspiration runs
down my face. It’s hard to enjoy
anything while having to mop my dripping brow with my forearm. I have pit marks, two half-moon shaped stains
under my breasts, and streak lines where my fat folds. My favorite blouse now looks like a tie-dye shirt.
I hope my son fails, not miserably, but just enough to get cut from the
are looking great. Zachary couldn’t look
was beaten by every kid his size in the sprints. After running around the perimeter of the
field several times, he hyperventilated.
He tripped over the cones during the agility drills, twice. Tumbled over his long legs, his limbs flying
awkwardly everywhere once he hit the ground.
When he got up; little flecks of black rubber turf were stuck to his
despite it all, he hasn’t quit yet.
day four in the first week of a two-week tryout, not once has any of the kids
touched a football, which seems
counterintuitive for a football tryout.
strict evaluation process incorporates a wide variety of training exercises to
measure each player’s little league potential.
The drills are conducted in a no-nonsense fashion and in quick
succession to test levels of stamina. Men
with stop watches study these ten-year-olds in great detail and then scribble
notes into their clipboards. They’ll
scratch their heads in deep contemplation and exchange knowing nods to one
another from across the field.
evaluators of youth talent are the most powerful men in Snoqualmie Ridge. They take their responsibility very, very--I
mean exceedingly--serious. They use a high degree of care and
circumspection in their performance appraisal system, with the use of scoring
algorithms that calculate each boy’s value and risk to the team.
is definitely not what I had in mind when I signed Zachary up to “play a game.”
is a group of players stretching along the sidelines, doing deep lunges, and
neck rolls. They’re giving themselves
pep-talks and performing visualization exercises. They wear shoes with rubber spikes worth more
than designer footwear. Their hair is
styled into intimidating Mohawks or sophisticated patterns etched into their
hair. I’m sure somewhere on the field,
the kid sponsored by Under Armour is wearing two-carat-diamond studs on each
miniature athletes, acting like NFL draft prospects, are busy sizing up their
competition. The winner pumps his fist
like Tiger Woods did after he sank a big putt in the PGA Tour. The others fall to the ground when they are
out beat and cry out in woe. One poor
kid throws his hands up in the air in frustration. He proceeds to cover his ears because he
doesn’t know which crazy, screaming adult to listen to; his parents,
grandparents, neighbors, the family dog--are all coaching him from the stands,
contradicting what the actual coaches on the field are yelling.
bleachers are full of parents sitting at the edge of their seats, hypnotized by
their child’s performance. They twitch
at every move their child makes. Some pace
up and down the bleachers, biting their nails, and shouting exhortations. They’re all seeking confirmation that great
athletic possibilities exist in them.
overhear one parent bribe her child with a fifty-inch flat screen TV for his
room if he got a certain time in a race. She’d throw in a Nintendo if his time lands in
the top five.
was a dad on day two that threw his shoe at a coach. “How dare you move my child from the
backfield! He’s a skill player! His trainer says he’s college scholarship
material!” This dad, who had veins
protruding from his neck, had to be dragged off the property by two men with
big muscles and tiny tank tops. They
were completely unbothered by the event.
“Mark my words John, I’ll be buying my paint from someone else from now
on! I’ll never do business with you
again, never!” His son didn’t seem surprised by his dad’s
outburst either. He casually grabbed his
water jug, bumped fists with a few buddies on his way out, and met his dad in
his monster truck. They peeled out of
the parking lot, as was expected.
one kid threw up orange Gatorade all over the sideline and his parent told him
to, “Stop acting like a crybaby,” it became swiftly evident that these are not
our peers. We do not belong here.
you a football mom?” asks a man wearing a safari hat, mirror sunglasses, and a
badge that reads EMT.
“Me? No way.”
I nearly collapse at the thought. “My son is only here for the tryouts.”
He doesn’t say anything right away. “I’m going to need his medical release and
parental consent forms before he can suit-up and is allowed to participate in
Several thoughts run through my mind, none of which I can decipher. There’s a long uncomfortable pause, at least sixty
awkward seconds pass. “Do you mean the
forms that relinquish this organization of any liability if my son gets hurt
while under your supervision?”
ah,” he stammers, “yeah, those are the forms.”
know signing this contract is like signing a contract with the devil. My son’s happiness in exchange for all that I
am against: violence, competition,
perpetual judgment, egos-
knew even as I was saying the words, even as I was thinking them, that I’d soon
regret it. “Yes. I have the forms.”
dig into my bag and hand over the binder of paperwork. It includes the registration forms, physical
form, medical clearance, emergency and treatment authorization, grade check,
uniform and equipment information, parent code of conduct contract, volunteer
(although it’s not really volunteering when you’re forced to do it) contract,
mandatory fundraising contract, several other forms I didn’t read, and a
whopping five-hundred-dollar check.
cross my arms and inform him, “There are labels along the side for every
“Wow.” His bushy eyebrows raise up behind his
sunglasses. “It’s color coded.” The EMT flips through the binder. The corners of his mouth turn upward, which
tells me he’s impressed. “No one has
ever done this before.”
checks several pockets of his cargo pants for a pen.
it’s in your fanny pack,” I say, wincing on his behalf because the fanny pack
is one of the most polarizing trends of the eighties.
scratches his forehead. One falls out
from his ear.
Perfect. This is the man who’ll be supervising my
child. He can’t even keep track of a pen
or what decade we are in.
follow the EMT to his E-Z Up canopy to ensure he does not lose Zachary’s paperwork
along the way. As he files the forms, I look around. It is fully equipped with emergency and first
aid equipment. There is a trauma kit,
basic life support equipment, splinting equipment, stretcher, AED, airway masks,
and supplies needed to stabilize a patient until an ambulance can arrive.
at once, I realize everything that can go wrong and I want my binder back.
EMT tells me, “Okay, you’re now good to go Ms...” He looks down at his
clipboard. “Autumn Kovac.”
overcome with the thought of my baby needing a neck collar or oxygen.
to pace circles around his tent, like I’m being chased by my fears.
you okay Ms. Kovac?”
put my hand out and brace myself on the table.
“Fine. Fine. I’m fine.” But the words get lodged somewhere in my throat,
tangled up with my furiously beating heart.
My breath is coming fast and shallow.
I can’t catch it.
“I’m, I’m, I’m going to go outside and get
some air,” I spit out before my mouth goes very dry. My tongue feels like it’s sticking to its
roof, making it difficult for me to talk.
“It’s a bit stuffy in here,” I slur.
EMT gives me an odd look. “This tent has
no walls.” He cocks his head to one
side. His face begins to spin like a Kaleidoscope.
heat-wave rolls up on me suddenly. It
starts in my chest and rises to my neck and head. “It’s really hot in here,” I
think to myself, but accidently say out loud.
EMT unfolds a metal chair. He places it
behind me. “Why don’t you sit down for a
second and have some water?”
I need is air conditioning, to be indoors in a controlled climate, on a
comfortable couch, with my son curled up in my arms where I can protect him
from the world.
need to get out of here.
dodge the EMT, teetering for a second before I get my legs back. I stumble my way over to the bleachers. I try and stop shaking. I begin an inner dialogue inside my head. I’m asking myself hundreds of questions,
while trying to answer them at the same time.
catch Zachary glance over at where I’m sitting.
I wave and give him my very best fake smile.
try to remember why I agreed to a contact sport.
yes, I can recall that it all began with Zachary’s meddlesome pediatrician. The doctor was concerned about his weight. He described my son as “disproportionately
heavy for his size.” Zachary has always
had a healthy appetite. He’ll eat anything,
Brussel sprouts, quinoa, organ meat, and all in a single sitting. He’d eat the cat food if our cat wouldn’t
scratch his eyes out. I’ve always
consider my son big boned or at least that’s what we called thick, stocky kids
when I was growing up, decades ago. The
doctor called him “obese.” He prescribed
more physical activity.
should seriously consider organized sports.
They build character and self-esteem, promote self-discipline, and
sportsmanship…” His pediatrician went on and on as if he’d make commission from
I mom?” Zachary looked up at me with
piercing eye contact.
guess,” is how I responded. “Do you want
to do track, tennis, golf?”
made a gagging sound, blacked out for a second, and continued. “There’s also soccer or basketball.”
want to play football Mom.”
fricking way,” is what I should have said, but instead I told him, “You don’t
have to decide now. Why don’t you think
about it,” which he did, obsessively, for over a month. He checked out every book from the library on
the topic. He began reading the daily
sports column in the newspaper and pulling up sports news sites on the
presented me with a PowerPoint presentation.
He showed me confusing graphs and tables, statistical sheets with a
bunch of numbers, and research written by people with a series of letters that
trail their name.
I got a
second doctor’s opinion and a third. I even
asked my gyno if she thought my son should play football. They all said the same. “The benefits outweigh the risks and that
playing sports is better than playing video games all day.”
also picked up a prescription for Xanax.
man who looks like Mr. Clean, wearing gym shorts, a tight shirt, and a lanyard
with a whistler attached yells, “Bring it in boys!” I met him at the equipment pick-up. He introduced himself as Coach McCall,
followed by a heavy slap on my back, which nearly knocked me off my heels. He’s the head coach of the pee-wee team. He went through his extensive sports resume,
but all I understood is that he is extremely serious about his after-work-hobby.
were also seven assistant coaches; I had no interest in getting to know.
the coach’s command, sixty-two anxious young boys line up, desperate for a
handful of spots available on the team.
About a third are returning players; many have played for three or more
years. You can tell by their posture,
who is experienced and who’s on the chopping block.
McCall has finally brought out the leather sphere. They begin a catching drill. He doesn’t even look at Zachary, he just shouts,
“Your turn Twelve!” Addressing him by his tryout number.
lips tighten. His eyes narrow. He digs in at the line. He pushes off. His long arms and legs flair. His auburn wavy locks blow in the wind.
Before the ball even leaves the thrower’s hand, Zachary hits the ground. The coach looks up at the equipment
shed. “Is there a sniper on the
roof? What the hell was that?”
blinks hard. He lowers his head. His shoulders are slump over, as he heads
towards the back of the line.
tries again. The thrower throws the
ball. He puts it right into Zachary’s
chest. It bounces off and falls to the
ground. The thrower keeps putting the
ball where Zachary should be able to catch it.
He even begins throwing them softer.
He’s practically lofting them like pop flies in softball. Zachary drops every one.
part of me feels terrible rooting against my child’s dream, but a much bigger
part of me wants to keep him safe. I
want him locked away in a padded room, just he and I, with miniature unicorns
as our pets, for the rest of our lives.
allowed him to tryout because I hate disappointing him and I was confident he
wouldn’t make the team. He’s too much
like me. We have grey owl-like eyes that
take up a disproportional amount of space on our face. We’re pale, like we’ve been hiding in the
shade for years. We’re both
five-foot-five and robust. We’re also
bookish, flat-footed, completely lack in physical aggressiveness, and terribly
uncoordinated. He can fall up the
stairs, not just going down. He runs
into the kitchen table even though it’s been in the same spot his entire
lifetime. He trips over air and spills
everything. I’m confident he won’t make
the water break the kids scatter to find their parents. We are not allowed on the field; in fact, we
have to be off the turf, passed the track, and behind the chain linked
are massaging their kids’ shoulders and misting their faces with water. Dads are giving their sons inspirational
speeches and wise insider knowledge.
Players are ingesting performance enhancing energy drinks and
nutritional supplements. One family is
holding hands kneeling on one knee and praying.
have nothing prepared, so I go with my usual. “I’m so proud of you Baby.”
calling me a baby.” I look into his
face. All I see is disappointment that
I’m not his father or Russell Wilson.
I’m just a divorced, unsuccessful, single mom, who’s hoping for the
worst for her son.
were terrific.” This is a lie. He was terrible.
say the S-word,” I remind him.
can’t throw the ball, catch the ball, or carry the ball. Coach McCall asked me if I was left-handed.”
I reach out and pat his saturated
hair, trying to connect with him at any capacity. “Who cares what they
He gives an exaggerated sigh. “They’re
gonna cut me mom. I know it.” His face is all twisted up, as though he’s in
not a big deal if you cut,” but I know it is.
He wants this and it seems the harder I wish him not to, the more
determined he becomes.
a long silence before he says, “You don’t understand.”
right. I don’t. Football is a violent culture and I’m a
passive person. My instinct is to avoid
confrontation. I like win-win
solutions. I’m an indoorsy type. I’d prefer not walking around perspiring or
greased from suntan oil.
starts fidgeting with the label on his Gatorade. His eyes water over. “Dad would understand,” I hear him say,
almost to himself. His forehead gathers.
My heart clenches. This is when
My Book Review:
In From The Sideline
, the second book in the Wake-Up Series
, author Amy Avanzino weaves an entertaining tale that follows divorced and single mom Autumn Kovac's personal journey of self-discovery, when she enters the world of youth competitive sports from the sideline.
Set in the Seattle suburb of Snoqualmie Ridge, Washington state and told in the first person narrative, From The Sideline
is an entertaining tale that easily draws the reader into Autumn's life and the challenges that she faces when she allows her ten year old son Zachary to try out for the Knights youth football program. Knowing nothing about the sport, Autumn is reluctant to let her only child to try out for a sport that she feels is violent, but since her ex-husband Clyde has abandoned them, she doesn't want to disappoint Zachary, so she supports his desire to make the football team as a way to reconnect and bond with her son.
From The Sideline
is a wonderful story that had a great mixture of humor and drama that will easily keep you engaged and turning the pages. You can't help but feel for Autumn as she learns how to embrace and overcome the hilarious challenges, trials, and tribulations of being a youth sports sideline parent, while also re-discovering the woman that was lost during her difficult marriage, and finding an unexpected romance along the way.
I loved how Autumn and Zachary reconnected and bonded over the shared sport of football, their mother-son relationship was heartfelt and touching. I also enjoyed how Autumn's two best friends Sarah and Lainey (who we met in the first book of the series, Wake-Up Call
) always had her back just like BFFs are supposed to do. It was fun to watch how Autumn re-discovered herself, and how she transformed into a strong woman who knows what she wants out of life. Finally, what more could a sports fan want then to have a fun read featuring a football theme! This story is so much fun that it will leave you wanting more. I hope that if there is a next book in the series, that it will feature Lainey's story!
From The Sideline
is a heartwarming story about life, choices, decisions, regrets, happiness, family, love, and discovering what the really important things are in life.
RATING: 5 STARS
About The Author
Amy Avanzino is a former advertising executive, who has spent the last several years writing while doing extensive hands-on research for her WAKE-UP CALL series. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York.
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