Slam

Slam

by Nick Hornby

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Overview

The #1 New York Times bestseller now in a brand new paperback package.

For 16-year-old Sam, life is about to get extremely complicated. He and his girlfriend-make that ex-girlfriend- Alicia have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble. Sam is suddenly forced to grow up and struggle with the familiar fears and inclinations that haunt us all.

Nick Hornby's poignant and witty novel shows a rare and impressive understanding of human relationships and what it really means to be a man.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594484711
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/16/2009
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 452,821
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nick Hornby is the author of six internationally bestselling novels (High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to be Good, A Long Way Down, Slam and Juliet, Naked) and several works of  non-fiction including Fever Pitch, Songbook and Ten Years In The Tub, a collection of his 'Stuff I've Been Reading' columns from the Believer.  His screenplay for the film An Education was nominated for an Academy Award. He lives in Highbury, north London.
 

Date of Birth:

April 17, 1957

Place of Birth:

Redhill, Surrey, England

Education:

Jesus College, Cambridge University

Read an Excerpt

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 hon¬est. 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.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Slam"
by .
Copyright © 2009 Nick Hornby.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
About Slam

Fifteen-year-old Sam is an avid skateboarder and fan of the legendary American skater Tony Hawk, whose autobiographyHawk Occupation: Skateboarder he has read “forty or fifty” times. In fact, whenever Sam is troubled, he talks to the poster of Hawk that hangs in his bedroom. And, believe it or not, the poster talks back – in appropriate passages from the autobiography!

As if this weren’t weird enough, when Sam’s girlfriend, Alicia, announces that she’s pregnant and the boy once again consults the poster, it not only offers the usual (fairly obscure) advice, it also “whizzes” him into the future! How weird is that?

Worse, the future proves no less confusing than the present. For the fact is, neither Sam nor Alicia is prepared to become a teen parent (though Sam himself was born when his parents were only sixteen) and both will soon be called on to make some very adult decisions about their lives.

While Nick Hornby respects the seriousness of these subjects, he also manages to write an irresistibly funny, heartfelt book that is filled with quirky, engaging, and believable characters struggling to make sense of lives as suddenly bumpy as a ride on an out-of-control skateboard.

 


ABOUT NICK HORNBY

Born in Redhill, Surrey, England, Nick Hornby graduated from Cambridge University and worked for a time as a book reviewer and a teacher of English to foreign students. His first book, a collection of critical essays on American novelists, was published in 1992 and was quickly followed by his celebrated soccer memoirFever Pitch. The first of his internationally bestselling novels, High Fidelity, was published three years later in 1995. Three others have followed, including About a Boy (1998), How to be Good (2001), and A Long Way Down (2005). Slam is his first novel published for young adults, though virtually all of his work – including his many writings about music – has had widespread appeal to teen readers. He is a recipients of the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, his work has been shortlisted for both the Whitbread Novel Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and he is a New York Times bestselling author. Nick currently lives in North London with his wife and three sons.

For additional information on Nick Hornby and his other titles, visit www.nicksbooks.com

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • How does the author make legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk a character in this novel?
     
  • Sam says, “…telling a story is more difficult than it looks, because you don’t know what to put where.” How has Hornby decided what to put where?
     
  • Do you believe the “weird” parts; i.e., is Sam really transported into the future and why do you think the author uses this device?
     
  • Would you like to have Sam’s experience of seeing the future?
     
  • How does Sam’s experience with each of his own parents affect what kind of parent he hopes to be?
     
  • What does the story tell you about the British class system? Would the book have been dramatically different if it had been set in America?
     
  • What kind of person is Sam? He says, “I can’t be bad.” Is he being honest with himself? Does he change over the course of the novel? If so, how?
     
  • Does Alicia make the right decision in keeping her baby?
     
  • Will Sam still be in touch with Roof fifteen years from now?
     
  • What does this book tell you about the modern meanings of “family” and “home”?
     
  • What does Sam mean when he says, “I hate time. It never does what you want it to.”
     
  • Sam thinks he might believe that “you have to live your life over and over again until you get it right.” What do you think?
     
  • Twice Sam asks his mother to give him “marks out of ten” for “how he’s doing.” How many points would you give him? Why?
  • Sam says, “If you don’t know how something feels, then you don’t know anything.” Does Hornby let you know how things feel for Sam? How does he do this?
     
  • Is this a hopeful and optimistic book? Should it be regarded as a work of humor or as something darker?
     
  • Customer Reviews

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    Slam 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Maddie_P More than 1 year ago
    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!
    adamflowers More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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
    jmyers24 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Despite its dry humor, Nick Hornby's Slam presents a dead-on picture of how easily teenagers can slide into the problems of adulthood without understanding quite how they got there. Sam's single mother talks him into going to a party with her so he can meet Alicia, the daughter of an acquaintance. Sam and Alicia seem to click and one thing leads to another. What makes this narrative so interesting and funny is that it's all told from Sam's point of view. Sam is a skateboarder living with divorced mother whose hero, Tony Hawk (aka T. H.), becomes something of a father-figure in his life. Sam has read T. H.'s autobiography so many times he imagines Tony is conversing with him when Sam talks to the poster of Tony hanging in his bedroom. So Tony is the one Sam consults when he learns his girlfriend is pregnant. No one else in Sam's life seems to understand his problems like Tony. So Sam keeps up a constant dialogue with the reader and with Tony. Sam's observations and assessments of the people and events as they occur produce an understanding of just how confusing human interaction can become. How he works through the conflicts and issues of teenage fatherhood will keep you reading to the last word.I found the story funny, sad, heartwarming and, most of all, true. This review is based on the audible.com free version.
    JessicaStalker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I think the main character in this book is completely well written and totally endearing. The situation is unfortunate but I thought Hornby has great insight into the mind of a teenager. I also enjoyed the time-travel storyline. For me it was a pleasant surprise in an otherwise predictable circumstance.
    Periodista on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A perfect airport/transport book. For those who went off Hornby a bit with his last two novels, this one in tone and narrator is closer to About A Boy and High Fidelity. Soon to be a major movie near you. To bad the kid from About A Boy is probably too old by now to play this part.Likable teenage boy, single mom, lower-class family gets a girl pregnant in convincing circumstances--and she decides to keep the kid with no apparently no hand wringing and futzing. Again, convincing reasoning, tho I wondered why the option of open adoption never came up. Maybe they don't have it in England?Not sure the device of periodically shooting the kid into the future works too well, though I'm already figuring out how it would work in the movie. (Only go to *one* future place and maybe work back how we got here). Also, Hornby doesn't have his heart in skateboarding the way he did with pop music and soccer. I think he was trying really hard not to rely on music or (traditional) sports as the thing for the kid to be fanatical about but, jeez, regardless,any story about kids this age ... should have little more music in it.Hornby is no deep thinker, which is fine. What I like best about him is how lightly he drops in the little truths that we knew so well in adolescence yet rarely seem to surface in grown-up lit and media and public ranting arenas. Like: sometimes it's the girl that's pushing the boy for sex. And: Some idiot girls want a baby in high school. The reason a boy (or het man) won't see Brokeback Mountain--or risk being seen at a movie theater showing said movie--is because in the opinion of his peers, there's only one reason he would want to see such a thing. Kids often realize that one parent is a total loser they don't want to emulate even if said parent is kind of fun. It can be embarrassing to have a mother that's too young and pretty. Older and fatter would be better.A perfect airport/transport book. For those who went off Hornby a bit with his last two novels, this one in tone and narrator is closer to those of About A Boy and High Fidelity. Soon to be a major movie near you. Too back the kid from About A Boy is probably a too old by now.Likable teenage boy, single mom, lower class family gets a girl pregnant in convincing circumstances--and she decides to keep the kid with no apparently no handwringing and futzing. Again, convincing reasoning, tho I wondered why the option of open adoption never came up. (Maybe they don't have it in England?)Not sure the device of periodically shooting the kid into the future works too well, though I'm already figuring out how it would work in the movie. (Only go to *one* future place and maybe work back how we got here). Also didn't sense that Hornby had his heart in skateboarding. I think he was trying really hard not to rely on music or (traditional) sports as the thing for the kid to be fanatical about but, jeez, kids this age ... there should be more music in it.Hornby is no deep thinker, which is fine. What I like best about him is how lightly he drops in little truths that we know from adolescence but somehow get nearly erased in grown-up lit and media and public ranting arenas. Like: sometimes it's the girl that's pushing the boy for sex. Some idiot girls want a baby in high school. The reason boys (and men) don't want to see Brokeback Mountain--or risk being seen a movie theater showing said movie--is because to his peers there's only one reason he could be seeing such a thing. Kids often realize that one parent is a total loser they don't want to emulate even if he's kind of fun. It can be embarrassing to have a mother that's too young and pretty..know from adolescence but somehow get nearly erased in grown-up lit and media and public ranting arenas. Like: sometimes it's the girl that's pushing the boy for sex. Some idiot girls want a baby in high school. The reason boys (and men) don't want to see Brokeback Mountain--or risk being seen a movie theater showing said movie--is becau
    bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    The first is Slam, which tells the story of a teenage skater boy who gets his girlfriend pregnant and has to come to terms with the consequences. He dreams about the future when his child is a toddler. Told from his point-of-view, the plot meanders as the teen flits between selfish and confused thoughts, like any teenage boy. The book didn't scratch the surface of emotions for me. This could be because I'm not a boy, or a teen or experiencing anything close to their situation. But I have connected with books that deal with similar plots, so I don't think that's it. It seemed like the boy, Sam, never really gets beyond the first feeling of shock in this situation. He seems very disconnected from the situation, like he's watching it all happen on TV.
    KLmesoftly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Definitely not your average coming-of-age novel, but a rewarding read nonetheless. Hornby does a great job of fleshing out characters, pointing out their flaws without laying blame and their good points without overly favoring any one figure. What could be a formulaic teen pregnancy novel is engaging and even surprising at points. I'm glad I chose to read this.
    whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Sam is nearly 16 and everything in life is going really well for him. His mom has dumped the boyfriend Sam didn't like; he's learned new, more difficult skating tricks (that's skateboarding, not ice skating--he's a huge Tony Hawk afficiando, even talking to his Hawk poster and having it talk back to him and show him his future); his teachers think he might have college potential; and he's started dating Alicia, a girl he'd thought was way out of his league. As Sam himself says in the novel, when everything's ticking along this well, it's time to go and screw it up. And this generally normal, average kid does that in spectacular, life-changing fashion. He gets his girlfriend pregnant, echoing his mother's worst nightmare for him (she had him while still a teenager as well). This is the story of Sam, how he screwed up, came to grips with his screw-up, and makes a new, unexpected and imperfect but liveable life for himself.I'm sure there are a load of novels dealing with teenaged pregnancy but Hornby has managed to add a fantastic new one to the mix. With Sam narrating, rather than girlfriend Alicia, the reader gets a much different perspective than usual. How a soon-to-be teenaged father reacts is different than a soon-to-be teenaged mother. We are taken along in Sam's world as he battles the desire to flee without finding out if Alicia is indeed pregnant (well, he does flee but he comes back), as he tries to finish enough schooling to become something, and as he struggles through life with a new baby and a girlfriend he's not sure he wants to be with any longer. As in his novels for adults, Hornby is quite adept in drawing an adolescent boy and all the confronts him in life. Sam is realistic and sympathetic. The other characters make fewer appearances on the page than Sam does and in fact the other characters are fairly few in number. But the focus on Sam works and while this isn't the usual cautionary teen pregnancy tale, there is certainly no glorification, rather a humorous but still difficult realism. I generally tend to like Hornby's non-fiction better than his fiction but I can recommend this one as a well-written and satisfying read for young adult or even adult.
    wenestvedt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    As always, Hornby gets the internal voice of the lead character perfectly. And the complexity of modern "blended" families is also handled well. However, the flash-forwards and flash-backs were a distraction.For anyone else it would be a very satisfying read, but Hornby's other books are so much better that this one only rates two stars.
    LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Slam is the story of a 15 year old boy (Sam) who is about to become a father. Sam himself is only 16 years younger than his mother. Nick Hornby has done his usual great job in creating characters who are real, with the relationships among them ringing true. I liked this book's insight into teen pregnancy from the boy's point of view. And, while Sam's perspective was the main one, Mr. Hornby showed us how Sam's mother worried about history repeating itself, how Sam's girlfriend Alicia struggled to make sense of her relationship with Sam after the baby was born, and how Alicia's parents were supportive, but disappointed in their daughter.What I didn't like was the plot device of sending Sam into the future periodically during the story. In a book where the characters were so believable, and where the portrayal of real life was a strength, this sci-fi aspect was out of place.
    shootingstar2428 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    SLAM, by Nick Hornby, is a witty ¿ and often times comical ¿ look into an average fifteen-year old boy¿s life. Sam lives in England with his single mother, is an average student in school, and his primary passion in life is skating (that¿s skateboarding to us commoners). Oh, and he has conversations with his Tony Hawk poster whenever he needs advice. ¿So maybe Sam isn¿t so average after all.Then, he meets Alicia, a gorgeous girl who is actually willing to be his girlfriend. Things are looking up for Sam until Alicia delivers the life-altering news that she may be pregnant.I give SLAM 4.5 stars out of 5 because Sam¿s narration is so charming in its honest delivery of the events of his life. He speaks to readers as if they were his best friends, sharing both his triumphs and his failures ¿ but never failing to add a touch of humor to every situation. This novel was easy to read because the language is simple and the plot consistently moved at a good pace. Although this novel would definitely appeal to teenage boys because the protagonist is one himself, I would recommend this novel to mature teenagers and adults looking for a read that is both hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking at the same time.
    VandyGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    ¿Slam¿, Nick Hornby¿s foray into the world of young adult fiction, is written in a style that will be familiar to readers of his previous works. The novel is written in the authentic first-person voice of 18-year old Sam, telling the story of his 16-year old self. Sam is an avid skateboarder and idolizes professional skateboarder Tony Hawk (or, as he calls him, ¿TH¿). Sam has a life-sized poster of TH on his wall which he talks to about skateboarding, his problems, and life in general. Tony Hawk answers only in the words of his autobiography, which Sam has memorized.The story really begins when Sam meets Alicia. On their first date they have sex instead of seeing a movie as they had planned, and the relationship continues to intensify from there. Eventually Sam tires of Alicia and they go their separate ways, until one day Alicia wants Sam to meet her at Starbucks where she tells Sam that she¿s pregnant. The rest of the novel chronicles Sam¿s struggles to come to terms with his impending fatherhood. ¿Slam¿ offers a lesson in the responsibilities of safe sex in an approachable and humorous way. Appropriate for 8th grade through high school.
    rfewell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I expected more from the book and from the author. Pretty lame story about a kid who gets a girl pregnant, then gets whizzed into the future a few times to see what life will be like with a baby...
    stephmo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Nick Hornby brings his take to the teen fatherhood story. Being Nick Hornby, we can assume that pop culture will play some unique play in the tale and we also know that our main character will be able to lay bare their mistakes and lessons learned with a certain mix of humor and realism.For Sam Jones, that pop culture icon is Tony Hawk, the professional skater. We learn that anything written in Tony Hawk's autobiography can be spoken through Sam's poster on the wall. So when Sam has a problem, he simply speaks to his Tony Hawk poster and Tony will lay out gems like, I was an idiot and wanted more freedom. For Sam's mother, it's listing off nearly every celebrity that is older than her, since she was sixteen herself when Sam was born. But it's more than the pop culture...Hornby manages a look at teen pregnancy from a multitude of angles in Sam and Alicia's story. There's Sam and Alicia's story. There's Sam's story as it relates to being the product of a teen pregnancy and seeing how it's impacted both of his parents over the last sixteen years. There's Alicia's parents and how it impacts them when they view themselves as having done everything right by their child. There's the pervasive presence of the internet and the advice it offers. Even the schools and birthing classes get a turn. Still, at the core, this is Sam's story. The story of a boy who is very ill-prepared to deal with consequence and how he stumbles through the only way he really knows how.
    ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed Slam, but I'm not quite sure who the target audience is.Teenage girls trying to understand a guys point of view? Teenage boys? Adults?I've enjoyed the other books I've read by Nick Hornby. This had a very similar feel to those, which is probably part of why I liked it. Sam was a great character, and the reason the book worked. He sounded like a teenage boy-- a good kid, not terribly motivated, but pulling his life together none-the-less. He and his girlfriend Alicia get in over their heads with a sexual relationship. The progression (or lack thereof) within their relationship was very real.Sam's reaction to learning of the possibility of Alicia's pregnancy was classic. He ran, and kept running-- but he came back. He carried on through the book, always consistent with his character.The other characters were more mixed. Alicia didn't have the same realism-- I frequently didn't quite understand her behavior. We were seeing it through Sam's eyes, and he didn't understand her either. Seeing through Sam's eyes kept us from seeing depth in the other characters. I appreciate this about the book, while wishing they had been fleshed out better.In the end I think this weakened the book a little for me.
    GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Really unusual. It has a very British voice, which made it more endearing, somehow. It would have been just a story about a seventeen-year-old boy who gets a girl pregnant, which is so common, but when skateboard idol Tony Hawk zaps him into the future, it became much more interesting. Good blend of humor as well.
    polutropos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Why, Nick, why?Such a silly little book. Yes, teen pregnancy is indeed painful for the participants. But being "whizzed" into the future??? One good line in the book about fathers: "If he only had one piece of advice for me, it would break his heart to find out it was useless." (270) A good passage about marriage and disillusionment: "You think you are doing the right thing, sleeping with the father of your children, because you want everyone to be together. And then one decade goes past, and another, and you realize that nobody else would ever want you, and you've wasted all this time sticking with something that any sane person would have got out of years before." (302) But overall this is a below average book by a writer who has written good ones.
    mysteena on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Picked up at the airport book store. Not a book that I'd normally read, but I finished it nevertheless. It's written from the perspective of a 16 year old boy who gets his girlfriend pregnant. His mom also had him at 16, so she is only 32 when she becomes a grandmother. This book is full of pop culture; for example the main character talks to his Tony Hawk poster on a regular basis, and Tony talks back to him. It's interesting for the pop culture aspect, but aside from that it didn't stand out as quite memorable.
    emitnick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Hornby's first YA novel has, like his adult novels, an extremely appealing voice. The narrator himself, 16-year-old Sam, isn't so likable - like many teenagers, he seems to communicate to the other characters mostly in grunts and mumbles. Luckily, his narration is a bit more articulate, as he relates how for once in his life, everything is going just fine - and then SLAM, his girlfriend gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby. Sam's reactions are all-too-realistic (denial, panic, obliviousness, etc etc) - but again, it's that compelling voice that keeps us reading. The only jarring note - the use of Tony Hawk as a plot device. Not only does Sam confide in a poster of TH (that I can almost buy), but TH seems to engage in mystical time manipulation, dropping Sam twice into his own future. Or was that three times? Anyway - slightly amusing but NOT necessary.
    TigerLMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Set in Britain, Sam idolizes Tony Hawk, and is on his board most of the time he's not in school. His mom introduces him to Alicia, the daughter of someone from her workplace. While the two don't hit it off initially, eventually they become boyfriend and girlfriend, and despite Sam's desire not to be like his mother and become a teen parent, Alicia gets pregnant. Author Nick Hornby captures the fear and isolation of Sam as he copes with the thought of being a teenage father with very few options. Sam's closest confidant is Tony Hawk-- which are Tony's words from his autobiography spoken through the Tony Hawk poster hanging in Sam's bedroom. The book is funny, sad, scary, and poignant, and on the short list for the 2009/2010 Gateway awards in Missouri.
    cyclopaedantic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Good YA effort from Nick Hornby. It takes you convincingly inside the mind of a fifteen-year-old boy (well, I assume convincingly ... I've never actually been inside the mind of a fifteen-year-old boy) who seems destined to repeat his parents' poor choices. Add to the mix a touch of time travel courtesy of Tony Hawk (I'm not totally convinced the time travel works for the novel, though). Will appeal to fans of Nick Hornby of all ages, even though it's aimed at teens.
    GBev2008 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I think if you take out the whole Tony Hawk/Time Travel angle that I would have liked the book a lot more. I also wasn't really sold that the "voice" of the story was a genuine 18 year old skater voice and he doesn't take the subject of "underage" pregnancy seriously enough. But it was fun to read, had some good characters and some laugh out loud moments ("Sex Pistol Jones") As usual Hornby puts together an amusing, light, and easy to read story that doesn't really answer all the questions and doesn't really pass judgment on the characters. He just sort of tells a fluffy little story
    stonelaura on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I keep wanting to like another Hornby book, but it¿s just not happening. As with A Long Way Down, this is not a bad book, but one in which I just can¿t believe in the character. In this one sixteen year-old Sam, skateboarding son of a divorced Mom who had Sam when she was only sixteen, impregnates his girlfriend on practically his first go at ¿it.¿ Hornby tries to bring some hip-ness to how Sam deals with this and to how he views life, but it felt false, pedantic and moralistic to me. I¿d like to hear how others react to this book.