Slam by Nick Hornby

I started this book not knowing anything about it. I never do that. I didn’t even realize that’s what I had done until the story got going and I was like, “Is this thing that I don’t want to happen about to happen? Because it sure sounds like it.” And I asked Mike, “What do you know about this book?” and he told me. And what he knew was, indeed, the thing that I did not want to happen. I wonder if I would have read it if I had known.

I think that I think I like Nick Hornby. But, really, I haven’t liked his novels all that much. I love his nonfiction, and I love the movies About a Boy and High Fidelity, but I am not so much a fan of the actual books those movies were adapted from. Isn’t that weird? You don’t expect that from me, I know. Anyway, I do like YA lit, so I thought, “Finally! A Nick Hornby novel for Kari!” And, having finished it, I do think it is my favorite of his novels.

I guess here is the part where I am going to talk about more serious plot points, and that might possibly include spoilers, so I’ll put that below the jump.

Though I say that this is my favorite Hornby novel, I was very close to putting it down. It wasn’t dragging or anything, it was just that the Nick Hornby style (no sentimentality) plus teen pregnancy (that’s what I didn’t know . . . clearly I didn’t read any reviews whatsoever) had me running scared. For one thing, our main character, Sam, seemed like a nice guy. His mom had him when she was 17, and it had been made clear to him that this had ruined her life. So then, when his girlfriend got pregnant, I could not deal. I was so upset, partly because I knew his mom was going to be devastated. Since when do I relate more to the main character’s MOTHER?


Anyway, those situations were handled very deftly, and though I had to put the book down several times to get the courage to read what was going to happen next, I admire the storytelling more than I can say. It’s not easy to tackle issues like teen pregnancy without glorifying it or turning it into your classic problem novel. Hornby manages, to the surprise of no one, I am sure, to talk about these issues realistically and with the voice of a very believable teenager. Sam was truly a wonderful character, funny and dumb and sweet. I loved being inside the head of a teenage boy, and I kept reading hilarious bits to Mike.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to teenagers, especially boys. Of course anyone who likes Nick Hornby will enjoy Slam, but I am especially excited about seeing him expanding to a whole new audience. Try High Fidelity next, guys. I have a funny feeling you’ll like it more than I did.

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