Friday, March 18, 2011


"I wasn't stupid. The chances of staying together weren't that good, really.... What it felt like was, there was this big hump in the road coming up, i.e. the baby. And we needed a bit of a push to get us over the hump. And maybe getting back together would do it. The things about humps in the road, though, is that you go up and then you come down again, and you can coast down the other side."

Title: Slam

Author: Nick Hornby

ISBN: 978-0-399-25048-4

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Copyright: 2007

Plot Summary: Simply put, Slam is the story of a 16-year-old skater boy named Sam, how he got his girlfriend Alicia pregnant, and how he talks to his Tony Hawk poster for advice. The difference is, Tony Hawk talks back through snippets of his autobiographical book. Slam hops about in time, beginning when Sam meets Alicia for the first time and they end up having sex without a condom. They soon find out that Alicia is pregnant and when Sam asks Tony Hawk for advice, TH flings him forward in time, when Sam is living in Alicia's room in her parents' house with the baby in a cot nearby. Alicia, looking older and more haggard, asks him to change the baby. Sam is naturally terrified and by the time he wakes up in his normal time, Sam flees to the coastal town of Hastings. He soon realizes his running away was not the best idea and returns home. Soon, Alicia and Sam confess to her parents that she is pregnant and that they want to keep the baby.

Critical Evaluation: The use of time travel, courtesy of Tony Hawk, within Slam is intriguing and done in a manner that differs from the usual time travelling books. Sam travels ahead in time and is, understandably, terrified at the situation: instead of his girlfriend just becoming pregnant, the baby is there, living and soiling its diaper and changing lives. He learns of his child's name and of his living situation. When Sam finally reaches the time when he is living with Alicia and the baby, Ruth, it has become normal for him and the leap in time has met up with real time. But what is different is him, he has been changed because of all the living he did up until that point, in that it is the journey not the end points of life that are important. The dialog and very distinct voice of Sam, is an intrinsic part of the story, especially as Sam is the narrator and he talks as if chatting with a friend, hopping about in the conversation and changing the subject.

Reader's Annotation: Sam is a normal boy who loves skating and Tony Hawk, a boy who can't believe his luck that a girl as amazing as Alicia could actually fancy him. When she gets pregnant, however, everything in hi slife changes.

Information About the Author: Nick Hornby is a bestselling author who is famous for his insight into the male mind and his gripping writing style. His books often revolve around adult men dealing with rather childish obsessions, such as About a Boy. Hornby's books have won numerous awards.
Nick Hornby currently lives in North London. Read more about him at his website.

Genre: Teenage parents; England; Romance; Realistic fiction

Curriculum Ties: Parenting

Booktalking Ideas:
  • Sam loves Tony Hawk and tells his TH poster all his problems. Thing is, TH speaks back to him, quoting portions of his book to give advice. When Sam's girlfriend gets pregnant, Sam has more to worry about than just skating and classes. And suddenly, TH's advice doesn't seem all that helpful, but TH does have the ability to throw Sam forward in time, to see his baby son....
Reading Level: 15+

Challenge Issues:
  • Slam deals with the issue of teen pregnancy and, while Sam and Alicia aren't the most mature teens, they eventually deal with the issue well. It is not a fairy tale book with them living happily ever after in their own home. They rely on their parents and try to live their own lives, with Sam and Alicia going to college classes while raising their son.
Why This Book?: Staff recommendation

Reference Page:
Hornby, N. (2007). Slam. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

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