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Hoult, who played the part of Marcus Brewer in the screen adaptation of Hornby's About a Boy, does a credible job-perhaps too credible-as Sam, the 16-year-old hero of Hornby's first YA novel. His tone is conversational, and he relates Sam's story about inadvertently getting his girlfriend pregnant, with little variation in emphasis: he's the epitome of the cool, unfazed teen even in the face of impending doom. But the combination of Hornby's authentic dialogue and Hoult's convincing reading produces some passages of teenspeak, especially between Sam and girlfriend Alicia-"Dunno/ Me neither"-type repartee-that is hard-going as entertainment. Hoult adopts a slightly deeper inflection for the part of Tony Hawk, whose poster Sam uses as a sounding board, but, comically, the quintessential California skateboarder speaks his lines (quotes from his autobiography, which Sam has memorized) with a British inflection. Overall, the audio showcases Hornby's skill at getting deeply inside the mind of his character. Sam, the most talkative teen ever to grind a skateboard, says, "Listen, I know you don't want to hear about every single little moment" and proceeds to recount every single little moment anyway. Ages 12-up. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 8). (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
So things were ticking along quite nicely. In fact, I’d say that good stuff had been happening pretty solidly for about six months.
• For example: Mum got rid of Steve, her rubbish boy¬friend.
• For example: Mrs. Gillett, my Art and Design teacher, took me to one side after a lesson and asked whether I’d thought of doing art at college.
• For example: I’d learned two new skating tricks, suddenly, after weeks of making an idiot of myself in public. (I’m guessing that not all of you are skaters, so I should say something straightaway, just so there are no terrible misunderstandings. Skating = skateboarding. We never say skateboarding, usually, so this is the only time I’ll use the word in this whole story. And if you keep thinking of me messing around on ice, then it’s your own stupid fault.) All that, and I’d met Alicia too.
I was going to say that maybe you should know something about me before I go off on one about my mum and Alicia and all that. If you knew something about me, you might actually care about some of those things. But then, looking at what I just wrote, you know quite a lot already, or at least you could have guessed a lot of it. You could have guessed that my mum and dad don’t live together, for a start, unless you thought that my dad was the sort of person who wouldn’t mind his wife having boyfriends. Well, he’s not. You could have guessed that I skate, and you could have guessed that my best subject at school was Art and Design, unless you thought I might be the sort of person who’s always being taken to one side and told to apply for college by all the teachers in every subject. You know, and the teachers actually fight over me. “No, Sam! Forget art! Do physics!” “Forget physics! It would be a tragedy for the human race if you gave up French!” And then they all start punching each other.
Yeah, well. That sort of thing really, really doesn’t happen to me. I can promise you, I have never, ever caused a fight between teachers.
And you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes or whatever to work out that Alicia was a girl who meant something to me. I’m glad there are things you don’t know and can’t guess, weird things, things that have only ever happened to me in the whole history of the world, as far as I know. If you were able to guess it all from that first little paragraph, I’d start to worry that I wasn’t an incredibly complicated and interesting person, ha ha.
This was a couple of years ago, this time when things were ticking along OK, when I was fifteen, nearly sixteen. And I don’t want to sound pathetic, and I really don’t want you to feel sorry for me, but this feeling that my life was OK was new to me. I’d never had the feeling before, and I haven’t really had it since. I don’t mean to say that I’d been unhappy. It was more that there had always been something wrong before, somewhere—something to worry about. (And, as you’ll see, there’s been a fair bit to worry about since, but we’ll get to that.) For instance, my parents were getting divorced, and they were fighting. Or they’d finished getting divorced, but they were still fighting anyway, because they carried on fighting long after they got divorced. Or maths wasn’t going very well—I hate maths—or I wanted to go out with someone who didn’t want to go out with me. . . . All of this had just sort of cleared up, suddenly, without me noticing, really, the way the weather does sometimes. And that summer, there seemed to be more money around. My mum was working, and my dad wasn’t as angry with her, which meant he was giving us what he ought to have been giving us all the time. So, you know. That helped.
If I’m going to tell this story properly, without trying to hide anything, then there’s something I should own up to, because it’s important. Here’s the thing. I know it sounds stupid, and I’m not this sort of person usually, honest. I mean, I don’t believe in, you know, ghosts or reincarnation or any weird stuff at all. But this, it was just something that started happening, and . . . Anyway. I’ll just say it, and you can think what you want.
I talk to Tony Hawk, and Tony Hawk talks back.
Some of you, probably the same people who thought I spend my time twirling around on ice skates, won’t have heard of Tony Hawk. Well, I’ll tell you, but I have to say that you should know already. Not knowing Tony Hawk is like not knowing Robbie Williams, or maybe even Tony Blair. It’s worse than that, if you think about it. Because there are loads of politicians, and loads of singers, hundreds of TV programs. George Bush is probably even more famous than Tony Blair, and Britney Spears or Kylie are as famous as Robbie Williams. But there’s only one skater, really, and his name’s Tony Hawk. Well, there’s not only one. But he’s definitely the Big One. He’s the J. K. Rowling of skaters, the Big Mac, the iPod, the Xbox. The only excuse I’ll accept for not knowing TH is that you’re not interested in skating.
When I got into skating, my mum bought me a Tony Hawk poster off the Internet. It’s the coolest present ’ve ever had, and it wasn’t even the most expensive. And it went straight up onto my bedroom wall, and I just got into the habit of telling it things. At first, I only told Tony about skating— I’d talk about the problems I was having, or the tricks I’d pulled off. I pretty much ran to my room to tell him about the first rock-n-roll I managed, because I knew it would mean much more to a picture of Tony Hawk than it would to a real- life Mum. I’m not dissing my mum, but she hasn’t got a clue, really. So when I told her about things like that, she’d try to look all enthusiastic, but there was nothing really going on in her eyes. She was all, Oh, that’s great. But if I’d asked her what a rock’n’roll was, she wouldn’t have been able to tell me. So what was the point? Tony knew, though. Maybe that was why my mum bought me the poster, so that I’d have somebody else to talk to.
The talking back started soon after I’d read his book Hawk—Occupation: Skateboarder. I sort of knew what he sounded like then, and some of the things he’d say. To be honest, I sort of knew all of the things he’d say when he talked to me, because they came out of his book. I’d read it forty or fifty times when we started talking, and I’ve read it a few more times since. In my opinion it’s the best book ever written, and not just if you’re a skater. Everyone should read it, because even if you don’t like skating, there’s something in there that could teach you something. Tony Hawk has been up, and down, and gone through things, just like any politician or musician or soap star. Anyway, because I’d read it forty or fifty times, I could remember pretty much all of it off by heart. So for example, when I told him about the rock-n-rolls, he said, “They aren’t too hard. But they’re a foundation for learning balance and control of your board on a ramp. Well done, man!”
The “Well done, man!” part was actual conversation, if you see what I mean. That was new. I made that up. But the rest, those were words he’d used before, more or less. OK, not more or less. Exactly. I wished in a way that I didn’t know the book so well, because then I could have left out the bit where he says, “They aren’t too hard.” I didn’t need to hear that when I’d spent like six months trying to get them right. I wished he’d just said, you know, “Hey! They’re a foundation for learning balance and control of your board!” But leaving out “They aren’t too hard” wouldn’t have been honest. When you think of Tony Hawk talking about rock-n-rolls, you hear him say, “They aren’t too hard.” I do, anyway. That’s just how it is. You can’t rewrite history, or leave bits of it out just because it suits you.
After a while, I started talking to Tony Hawk about other things—about school, Mum, Alicia, whatever, and I found that he had something to say about those things too. His words still came from his book, but the book is about his life, not just skating, so not everything he says is about sacktaps and shove-its.
For example, if I told him about how I’d lost my temper with Mum for no reason, he’d say, “I was ridiculous. I can’t believe my parents didn’t duct-tape me up, stuff a sock in my mouth and throw me in a corner.” And when I told him about some big fight at school, he said, “I didn’t get into any trouble, because I was happy with Cindy.” Cindy was his girlfriend of the time. Not everything Tony Hawk said was that helpful, to tell you the truth, but it wasn’t his fault. If there was nothing in the book that was exactly right, then I had to make some of the sentences fit as best I could. And the amazing thing was that once you made them fit, then they always made sense, if you thought about what he said hard enough.
From now on, by the way, Tony Hawk is TH, which is what I call him. Most people call him The Birdman, what with him being a Hawk and everything, but that sounds a bit American to me. And also, people round my way are like sheep and they think that Thierry Henry is the only sportsman whose initials are TH. Well, he’s not, and I like winding them up. The letters TH feel like my personal secret code.
Why I’m mentioning my TH conversations here, though, is because I remember telling him that things were ticking along nicely. It was sunny, and I’d spent most of the day down at Grind City, which as you may or may not know is a skate park a short bus ride from my house. I mean, you probably wouldn’t know that it’s a short bus ride from my house, because you don’t know where I live, but you might have heard of the skate park, if you’re cool, or if you know somebody who’s cool. Anyway, Alicia and I went to the cinema that evening, and it was maybe the third or fourth time we’d been out, and I was really, really into her. And when I came in, Mum was watching a DVD with her friend Paula, and she seemed happy to me, although maybe that was in my imagination. Maybe I was the happy one, because she was watching a DVD with Paula and not with Steve the rubbish boyfriend.
“How was the film?” Mum asked me.
“Yeah, good,” I said.
“Did you watch any of it?” said Paula, and I just went to my room, because I didn’t want that sort of conversation with her. And I sat down on the bed, and I looked at TH, and I said, “Things really aren’t so bad.”
And he said, “Life is good. We moved into a new, larger house on a lagoon, close to the beach and, more importantly, with a gate.”
Like I said, not everything that TH comes up with is exactly right. It’s not his fault. It’s just that his book isn’t long enough. I wish it were a million pages long, a) because then I probably wouldn’t have finished it yet and b) because then he’d have something to tell me about everything.
And I told him about the day at Grind City, and the tricks I’d been working on, and then I told him about stuff I don’t normally bother with in my talks with TH. I told him a little bit about Alicia, and about what was going on with Mum, and how Paula was sitting where Steve used to sit. He didn’t have so much to say about that, but for some reason I got the impression that he was interested.
Does this sound mad to you? It probably does, but I don’t care, really. Who doesn’t talk to someone in their heads? Who doesn’t talk to God, or a pet, or someone they love who has died, or maybe just to themselves? TH . . . he wasn’t me. But he was who I wanted to be, so that makes him the best version of myself, and that can’t be a bad thing, to have the best version of yourself standing there on a bedroom wall and watching you. It makes you feel as though you mustn’t let yourself down.
Anyway, all I’m saying is that there was this time—maybe it was a day, maybe a few days, I can’t remember now—when everything seemed to have come together. And so obviously it was time to go and screw it all up.
Posted April 20, 2009
This ia a wonderful book. I love the way Nick Hornby writes. This is a book that every teenager should read, whether sexually active or not. Makes you think twice about decisions in life.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 14, 2009
I am doing this review on the book Slam by Nick Hornby. I think the book Slam was a very good book. It was a serious book but also a funny book with good humor. Hornby is a great writer. The main character in this book is Sam. He is a teenage boy. His mom gave birth to him at a very early age, and she made sure that Sam knew that teenage pregnancy's get in the way of being a young adult. Sam has a girlfriend named Alicia. And one day, Alicia drops a huge bombshell on Sam...she's pregnant. Sam knows that he is not ready to be a father. This book is about the struggles Sam has being a teenage dad. This book taught me a lot about making good choices so I can have the best opportunity's for myself when I get older. I really recommend this book for anybody, it's a great read!
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 19, 2010
I've always looked for literature that I can really relate to so I can be able to understand the story and theme that much better. Nick Hornby wrote something that honestly made an impact on my life.
I am 17 years old and I also have been skateboarding for quite some time. When I started to read this book, I saw something in the main character I saw in myself and that most teenagers, if not most people see in themselves. Sam is someone of individuality but at the same time is lost and needs guidance. He didn't really realize that until things started to get hectic and change drastically.
I can relate to this book almost exactly, except for the pregnancy lol. This is a very good book if you interested in realism, theme-orientated books (teaches a good lesson), and in the unexpected. I could have read the book in one sitting if I had had the time. You definitely get wrapped up in the conflict and the realism of the book. This is a definite must-have for teenagers and parents of teenagers.
The only thing is that it may seem like kind of a grade school level book but I think that was done on purpose by the author to come from the perspective of a teenager.
Overall, 5 out of 5.
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Posted September 12, 2008
I was on vacation with my family and found this book in one of the bedrooms of where we were staying at I examined the book and said to myself I havent read a book of my choice for a while so while I'm here I'll set a goal for myself and see how this book is showing its point of being on the shelf in this bedroom and I thought man I would like what had happened to end up in a diffrent way for Sam and everyone else but see the thing is it woudnt be this book Slam it would be a totally diffrent story and it has it pros and its cons and my opinion its a bitter sweet story and I do agree on other peaples views on it this very story. And I have run out of how I would love to make my point of view stand out to show how I feel at the very least
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Posted August 23, 2013
Posted August 22, 2013
Posted August 26, 2012
To me the writing didn't seem up to par with the reviews . I couldn't
get that into the story, but maybe that's because i couldn't relate that
well to the character. I was able to finish the book with out giving up
on it. Sorry if this review seems lack luster, but that's how the book
was to me.
Posted August 7, 2012
Posted October 19, 2011
I just happened to find this book in a bargain section of a store recently and had wanted to read it for a while. Nick Hornby is an excellent writer. Mr. Hornby has given us a realistic story about becoming and being a teenage father. Slam was a witty and serious story all in one. The book was written as if the main character was telling you the story of his life, yet at the same time you felt as if you were living his life. Once you pick up this book, you will have a hard time putting it down. And just the way the ending is written, it will leave you with a smile on your face.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something to read.
Posted September 13, 2011
As a new, two time dad, I appreciated the protagonist's fresh observations about fatherhood. The book flows well and is full of characteristic Hornby wit.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 21, 2011
Posted April 21, 2010
Nick Hornby's books are usually an easy read which get me hooked quickly. Then, just as quickly as you're hooked, you realize the depth of his characters hidden underneath all the humor and witty dialogue. Mr. Hornby writes with respect and I never felt like he was belittling any of the characters yet at the same time glorifying any of their actions. I'd read it again!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 9, 2010
The book shows the struggle and hard decisions that young teenagers go through when they are on the verge of a pregnancy. The book starts out with Sam, a 15 year old boy telling you about his life. He is a boy that loves to skateboard and idolizes tony hawk. He talks to a poster in his room for advice. His mother, like him, got into the pregnancy issue at a very young age of 16. The book shows the affects of a teenage pregnancy from the eyes of a teenage father. The book incorporated skater language or lingo, it may be an interesting extension activity to have teens compile a dictionary of skater terms to help define the various tricks, etc. With all this teen related activities and such the reader, if a teenager, can easily relate to the story as his own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 20, 2009
If you only want to read one book by Nick Hornby, it's "Slam." Admittedly it has less in common with his other works than "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy" do, but it actually stands alone very well. It's his most recent novel, and reflects not the culmination of his literary technique, but also the effects that other novels such as "The Pigman" have had on his writing style.
The book is about a teen couple (Sam and Alicia), who become parents due to an unplanned child (Roof). The book is both unique and easily relatable; Hornby is different in as much as he narrates from Sam's (the father's) perspective, but tells a story centered around a fairly prevalent issue.
There is a small dose of pure fiction I didn't expect, when Sam is "whisked" to the future a few times by his poster of Tony Hawk (his role model). However, it IS a symbol that solidifies several aspects of the novel: Sam's innocence; his interest in skating; forshadowing (Hawk was a teen father as well); and a father/advice-giver for Sam, who is being raised solely by his mom. This parallelism is also seen in Sam's mother, who had Sam when she was 16 years old, and even gets a new boyfriend later and has another child about the same time that Sam and Alicia have Roof.
Because of Sam's and his mom's plight, this book applies to anyone interested in seeing an every-day account of what parenthood is like, no matter how old the mom or dad. It portrays a life-changing event, as well as common strains in a life such as that led by the characters. It is truly insightful for anybody and everybody; it is one of the best contemporary novels I've read so far!!
I love Horby's books, and Slam is not far from his usual style. My grudge with this book was that although Hornby has an unique style that transformed books like A long way down and Fever Pitch favorites, it just didn't work as well with Slam. The characters were not easy to fall for as much as his other characters in different books, and I got tired of reading it. I'd rather read any of his other books instead.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2009
I really enjoyed this book. The protagonist, Sam, is very easy to identify with and I could imagine doing the things he does in the situation he is faced with. When his girlfriend gets pregnant, he runs away from home to avoid his baby and I feel like that is a very big problem these days. His friends and family are real and this book shows that nobody is perfect. His girlfriend's parents are judgmental and rude but he finds a way to ignore them (for ex: When they are deciding what the baby's last name will be, The parents want it to be the girlfriend's so that he will have a 'better future' because they are more successful. Sam is appalled but just sits back and stays calm.) He is a very serious skater and he often chats with his poster of Tony Hawk and the poster talks back with excerpts form his book. His relationship with the poster is quirky and weird but the poster always gives good advice. This book is very well-written and realistic.
Reviewed By: Logan Awesomely
Posted March 3, 2009
Posted November 15, 2008
Sam figures that his life is going pretty well. He's doing all right in school, he gets along with his mom, he has a great girlfriend, and is getting good at skateboarding. He has aspirations of attending college, unlike his mom, who had to drop out of school when she became pregnant with him. <BR/><BR/>But all of his dreams come crashing down when his girlfriend, Alicia, tells him that she's pregnant. And she has no intention of getting rid of the baby. <BR/><BR/>Sam spooks. He goes into denial. When that doesn't work, he tries running away, physically and emotionally. And then, an unexplainable thing happens...while he dreams at night, he gets whizzed into the future and is shown an unexpected life that will force him to face the facts and take responsibility for his actions. <BR/><BR/>SLAM is a frank, vivid, and highly realistic take on teenage pregnancy from a point of view that is completely different from what many are accustomed to. Hornby doesn't waste time by working in lectures of the consequences of premarital sex, but instead gives us Sam, who is a little selfish, very scared, a bit ashamed, but ultimately a strong character who, through many trials and despite his own feelings, manages to pull himself together and attempt to be the best dad he can be -- and is surprisingly good at it. <BR/><BR/>The more unbelievable element of the story, Sam's visits to the future, gives the story just the right dash of unique appeal without seeming too implausible. Hornby does more than just give us an intriguing account of teen parenthood; he reveals each emotion, thought, and feeling with startling clarity and humor, until you understand and empathize with Sam. SLAM is a fascinating, compelling, and even poignant read that won't soon be forgotten.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I liked this book because it had a clear message: Life isn't perfect and teenagers mess up A LOT. Slam is a realistic story about a boy who gets a girl pregnant and suddenly his skating boarding-teen-world takes a big turn. This happens every day. It's just that most people don't want to talk about teen pregnancies. Very good book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 28, 2008
Well, i picked up this book and i thought it was going to be a good read, because i read a LOT. but i read through the first three chapters and i wasn't hooked. thats the time when the book is supposed to capture the readers attention. needless to say, it didn't. i just skipped around and got the story. its not as great as i thought it was going to be. Dissapointing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.