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Slam Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 16, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399250484
  • ASIN: B0036DE5FE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,093,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* For Hornby, author of About a Boy (1998) and High Fidelity (1995), the move from adult to young-adult fiction represents more of a natural progression than a change in course. So it should come as no surprise that he has written an accomplished teen novel featuring a character whose voice hits its groove at the downbeat and sustains it through the final chord. Sam is a disarmingly ordinary 15-year-old kid who loves to skate (that's skateboarding, to you and me). But then he is blindsided: his girlfriend gets pregnant, and he lands in the middle of his mum's nightmare (she had Sam when she was 16). This may sound like an old-fashioned realistic YA problem novel, but it's a whole lot more. Sam, you see, has a sort-of-imaginary friend: the world's greatest skater, Tony Hawk, whose poster Sam talks to when he has problems. And the poster talks back, maybe, or maybe Sam is just reciting quotes from Tony's autobiography. And is it really Tony who is "whizzing" Sam into the future for glimpses of what is to come? With or without Tony's help, Sam gives us the facts about his very eventful couple of years, but as he reminds us, "there comes a point where the facts don't matter anymore . . . because you don't know what anything felt like." Which is where Hornby comes in. We know exactly how Sam feels—even when he feels differently from the beginning of a sentence to the end—and it feels just right: a vertiginous mix of anger, confusion, insight, humor, and love. Ott, Bill

Review

...a sweet and funny story about mistakes and choices. -- VOYA

...full of pleasures that readers familiar with Hornby should recognize, such as the kooky subsidiary characters and clever off-center dialogue... -- Kirkus

...full of wit, humor and pathos. -- San Francisco Chronicle

A sure bet for Hornby fans of any age -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

A sure bet for Hornby fans of any age. -- Publishers Weekly

Hornby's witty, gentle genius shines through. -- USA Today

Hornby...shows he understands the psyche of an adolescent boy just as well as he does those of men. -- KLIATT

The characters are given the opportunity to grow with charm and wit while facing the challenges of young adulthood. -- School Library Journal

Vintage Hornby: a witty trek inside the emotional life of the modern male. -- People

Well-balanced wit and weight, prominent pop-culture placement...and an exploration of that tricky line that separates youths from adults. -- The Washington Times

More About the Author

Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, How to Be Good (a New York Times bestseller), High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and of the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is also the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Award, and the Orange Word International Writers London Award 2003.

Customer Reviews

The characters are hard to relate to in most ways and there aren't very many in the first place.
Alicia R
The storyline follows pretty much what you would expect from pretty much any teen-pregnancy story with a couple of twists thrown in.
Amazon Customer
Only Nick Hornby could write a book on a difficult subject that's this touching and funny at the same time!
Sssan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've been a huge fan of Hornby's since the early days, including his non-fiction, and this step into YA lit feels totally natural. After all, so many of his protagonists (including himself) are young men struggling to come to terms with adulthood and the responsibilities of "growing up." Here, the dilemma is much the same, however it's much more direct, and instead of a young man grappling adulthood, it's a teenage boy grappling with the implications of a monumental adult responsibility.

I'm guessing there have been a number of good YA books about teen pregnancy -- and if that's the case, add this one to the list. The simple story is narrated by 18-year-old North London lad Sam, reflecting back over the past two years. While it's pretty bare bones -- the cast doesn't really extend beyond Sam, his girlfriend, their respective parents, and two skater acquaintances -- things are made livelier though the device of having Sam discuss his problems with a poster of legendary pro skater Tony Hawk (whose responses are passages Sam has memorized from Hawk's autobiography). There are also a few jumps into dream sequence/time-travel which break up the straightforward narrative, although they don't actually add up to that much.

The book's real strength comes from Hornby's ability to capture the inner life of a teenage boy while avoiding all the usual pitfalls. Sam is neither too articulate nor too dense, and he's basically a well-adjusted, pleasant teen who hasn't gotten into any trouble -- until now. His narrative is full Hornby's trademark observational wit, although without nearly as many pop culture trappings as usual. The book certainly carries a cautionary message about teen sex, but it's never hectoring or reductionist. There's a strong sense of hopefulness for Sam, despite the deep hole he's dug himself. It's not an amazing book, but certainly a cut above the average.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Nick Hornby has always specialized in the tales of young, rather lost men in a modern world. "About A Boy," "High Fidelity," et cetera.

Well, this time it's a young, rather lost BOY who is forced to grow up too fast, in Hornby's first foray into young adult fiction, "Slam." It's a gently humorous, rather bewildered story, albeit one that occasionally reads like a sex ed cautionary tale.

Sam is an ordinary kid, from a line of people who always messed up their lives early on. He loves skateboarding, talks to his Tony Hawk poster, wants to be a graphic art designer, and his love life is just starting to bloom. So he's blindsided when his ex-girlfriend Alicia reveals that she's pregnant, and that she intends to keep the baby.

Suddenly Sam is facing Alicia's snobby parents, his shattered dreams, and the fear that he can't be a good dad. Somehow his Tony Hawk poster flashes him months into the future, giving him glimpses of how his life will suddenly twist. And when Alicia has the baby, Sam finds that he needs to grow up in a hurry -- for his son, his parents, and the changes that are happening way too early.

To be honest, my first reaction to "Slam" was a pained groan. Nick Hornby crafts really insightful, unique fiction, and a story about teen pregnancy just seemed so.... simple. After all, there are only a few ways a pregnancy can turn out, and all but one don't make for a very long story.

But Hornby spins the story in his usual laid-back, meditative style, full of contemplative moments and pop culture references. It feels like reading a gently humorous memoir, but one with a painful sting of regret.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Hipps on November 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm sure there are going to be a lot of nervous parents out there giving this book to their teenagers in hopes of scaring them off of sex for another few years. Hornby's latest uses teen pregnancy at the center of the plot, but I hope it isn't seen exclusively in that light.

What Hornby has done, and quite cleverly, is written a book about teens being put in overwhelming situations and growing from them, emerging at the other end as the same person but somehow bigger. He uses pregnancy to drive the plot but it could have been something else--choosing a career, say--since there are so many things that can seem overly awing to a young man. If you ever wanted to achieve something in life but didn't know how to start, only to realize years later that you had accomplished your goal, this is a book you will enjoy.

That's really all I have to say, but I'll add this: Hornby's true genius is in his recall of his own experience and his ability to recognize the universality of that. He knows every millimeter of the psyche of a character--a young man, in this case--and can put himself there and travel through those realms without judgment, tracing the different steps the character takes as he expands his awareness and point of view. It's a rare gift, and I'm glad that Hornby continues to share it with us.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I love Nick Hornby. I love his whit, his bright outlook on bleak situations and how he effortlessly inserts pop-culture references into timeless stories. His latest book, however, did not live up to his usual standards.

The storyline follows pretty much what you would expect from pretty much any teen-pregnancy story with a couple of twists thrown in. The only son of a teenage mother, Sam finds out his ex-girlfriend is pregnant on his sixteenth birthday and reacts with a little more dignity and honor than you would expect from most boys in his situation. To help him deal with what seams like an impossible situation, Sam talks to a poster of skating icon Tony Hawk and at times finds himself swept away to the future when life gets so bad that he doesn't think he can deal anymore.

I felt the teenage characters fell a little short of what some other pretty amazing YA authors are publishing now. And Hornby's usually seamless prose jump between past, present and future far too often for comfort. I did like Sam and his growth as a character and found myself always hoping that he would pull through even though I never felt myself become truly engaged in his story.

Overall, it was a decent read but nothing too spectacular.
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