Monday, November 10, 2014

Slam by Nick Hornby

It's November, I'm back, and I brought books (or, um, book reviews - you know what I mean)!

Nick Hornby's Slam is about Sam, the teenage son of a single mother who had him too young.  Sam, unfortunately, in the course of book, is about to follow in his mother's footsteps.  Sam's a pretty normal teenager, into skating (that's skateboarding for the uninitiated), preparing for the possibility of studying art at college, and, of course, spending all kinds of time with his superhot girlfriend, Alicia.  Everything is going along quite nicely, that is, until Alicia gets pregnant.

Slam's kind of a weird book.  Sam himself is, for the most part, a very normal teenage guy.  When faced with the staggering revelation of his girlfriend's pregnancy, he doesn't really know how to be supportive and kind of irrationally just wants to run away from the whole thing.  In short, he's inarticulate, obsessed with Tony Hawk, and he's kind of irritating - just like you would expect him to be at his age.  Then there's this weird plot thing where he consults with a poster of Tony Hawk for tidbits of life advice, which are tangentially related quips from Tony's book reproduced by Sam's overactive imagination, and the part with the supposed time travel (dreaming?) that reveals to Sam the various courses his life might follow as a too-young dad.

By turns bizarre and painfully realistic, Slam makes for some interesting reading.  Hornby seems to be spot on when he digs into the issues of teenage parenting, how unprepared kids are for the responsibility, how the parents eschew helping for debating over which kid ruined the other's life, as well as how quickly kids can age when they are forced to take on big responsibilities.  I liked these parts.  I liked that even though Sam's very colloquial narration reveals a character that, from a female perspective, is, on the whole, kind of aggravating, Hornby doesn't shy away from a creating a character who has very real and believable reactions to a very real and drastic turn of events in his life.

I could very well have done without all the weird Tony Hawk stuff, but even that, kind of points to Sam's immaturity that obviously doesn't go away just because he's about to become a father.  On the whole, being inside the head of a character I often couldn't decide whether I'd like to give a hug or a shove made it a little difficult to love this book, but Slam is definitely an interesting and rare look inside the male perspective on teenage pregnancy.

(No disclaimer today, friends.  I, like, bought this book - and read it, too!)


  1. I really do want to read Hornby one day but I think his work might be a little too odd for me.

  2. This may be the perfect Hornby book for me as it sounds remarkable weird and real simultaneously.

  3. I haven't read Hornby yet (!) but I find it interesting that we get the teen father's point of view after so many stories about teen moms.