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3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 16 August 2015
Slam Book Review

Sam the narrator of Nick Hornby's book is 18 and he is writing about when he was 16 a time when he regularly had imaginary conversations with his hero Tony Hawk. Is the big name in skateboarding. Like Ronaldo Messi or Bentner is in football.

Sam has a tony hawk poster on his wall and claims to have read tony’s autobiography 50 times. In fact, many of the answers that tony gives are quotes from the autobiography.

You really quickly understand that sam is a young 16-year-old with a mom who had him when she was 16 and who still looks young and pretty enough to be fancied by Sam's friend Rabbit. Rabbit and rubbish are his friends that he goes skate boarding with. Rabbit is a good skater and rubbish is bad and that explains his name.

Another big character is ailca who is sam’s girlfriend. And same ends up getting alica pregnant and that is the main part of the book. Through out the book sam has visions of what his life will become after hes a dad.
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For, I would guess, fifteen to sixteen year olds, and up, this is a non-preachy warning as to what can happen when your feelings run away with you. Sam is a skateboarder, living with his Mum and reading about Tony Hawks. He treats the life story of this California skating expert more like a manual of what to do with your life than a biography. But TH has lots to of advice to give in his book, which often chimes in with the story of Sam's own life.

The time period of the book skips forwards and back, often without warning, in the book. Personally I think it would have been better to tell the story straight. There is no explanation given as to why the time periods shift about, and the phenomena creates problems, as when Sam is charged with getting his baby to the clinic for his inoculations and because he is in a random switch forward period, he doesn't even know what the baby's name is. Therefore the baby comes back without having the inoculations. What is even stranger is that no one looks at the relevant area and sees that he hasn't had the inoculations done. Nick Hornby must know that inoculating a baby leaves a mark on the skin?

Maybe this doesn't matter too much. But there are other moments when the switching about with time periods is just a needless distraction to the story. I think a fifteen year-old would be irritated. Apart from that, however, this is a warm and sometimes quite moving story about Sam, his mother and his girlfriend, taking in the problems of having a baby before you've left school. It's not an awful warning, since both families involved do their best to help Sam, and Alicia, his girlfriend, but it does touch on some uncomfortable moments before ending happily.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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on 15 March 2015
We are pupils of a German comprehensive school in the 11th grade and had to read the book "Slam" in our English class.
The novel is a love story with realistic problems, in which two teenagers have to deal with a big accident. The story is told from the viewpoint of a sixteen year old boy who is going to be a father and describes the ups and downs he has to go through.
We did not like that the story is long-winded in some parts which makes it hard to concentrate and to keep on reading. Additionally, the "whizzing" into the future and the talking to the poster did confuse us and did not help to build up suspense.
But all in all we think the book is okay because the language and the story itself are easy to understand and in some parts it is quite funny. And the story is set in our time and deals with characters that have about the same age as we have which makes it easy to identify with them.
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on 2 February 2009
Athough I enjoyed reading this witty insight into teenage parenthood I did feel that maybe Hornby had written this for young adults. I would certainly recommend it as obligatory reading material for the early teens age group. Reading this would maybe help them to understand the problems of not considering the consequences of having a sexual relationship!
The story is written from the viewpoint of Sam, an eighteen year old young man who two years previously had become a teenage parent. It happened at a time in his life when he had felt that things were just beginning to click into place. He was getting on well with his mother, had plans for going to college and had a lovely girlfriend Alicia.Then Alicia gets pregnant unexpectedly and the young couple find themselves confronted with adult problems which they are unable to cope with alone. However they are fortunate to have very supportive parents. Sam's account of the situation has some very funny scenes and some of his comments seen from an adult point of view are very amusing.
So I feel that even if I this book was not particularly aimed at me personally it is well written and I think it will appeal to others.
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VINE VOICEon 15 September 2010
Hornby's last novel before this one, "How To Be Good", was startlingly bleak, so it's a relief to find him in a more positive mood this time. "Slam" is the story of an ordinary skateboarding teenager who accidentally gets his girlfriend pregnant: everything leads up to and flows from that momentary mistake. Our narrator, Sam, is a likeable but by no means flawless lad, meaning no harm but appalled by the prospect of his future closing down, and the book is his journey through a thicket of arguments and decisions and consequences towards something better than just coping.

Hornby depicts modern fragmented families and impermanent relationships, not as a good or bad thing but as an unavoidable reality to be dealt with. His characters don't stumble into better futures; rather, they adjust themselves to meet what's coming: his endings aren't so much 'happy' as 'manageable'. He captures the texture of contemporary life and culture; his prose is immediately addictive and his dialogue sharp and natural.

And best of all, this book is extremely funny. Couldn't put it down.
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on 16 December 2015
You could at least warn buyers that this version (the first you're presented with if you search for "Nick Hornby Slam") is an ANNOTATED LEARNER'S VERSION for German students, with numbered lines and footnotes explaining "difficult" words.
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on 14 November 2007
Just finished reading Slam, the new Nick Hornby book, and his first foray into teenage fiction. To be cynical, it's as if Nick had said "I'd really like to sell more books. Maybe one way I could do that would be to write something that would be sure to get on school reading lists. Maybe a Catcher in the Rye-lite but with more humour and a single, hot-topic, theme."

Now for starters, I have to say that theme is one of zero interest to me. (And I won't spoil it by telling you what it is.) In fact, if I'd known the theme, I maybe wouldn't have read the book. I don't think there is a lot of substance to Slam other than the theme. And I think that maybe Nick thought the same. To make the whole thing more interesting he has resorted to using two devices. The first is Sam's (the protagonist) inner dialogue with skateboarding legend Tony Hawks. Or rather with statements from Hawk's autobiography. This is a not uninteresting technique and provides some fine humorous moments. I am far more troubled by the second: sending Sam forward in time to educate him on what the future holds for him.

Speaking as someone who reads a lot of teenage fiction, it seems to me like he has misjudged his audience and done them something of an injustice. Despite the "adult" theme, Hornby has oversimplified his technique to the point where his writing is lacking the sophistication and richness that I have come to expect. He could well be writing for a 10 year old.

So what did I like about Slam? Well the trademark Hornby humour is there. However as the theme gets "heavier" it tends to dry up somewhat. And regardless of my comment about the lack of richness, Hornby can't help writing extremely well. The whole thing flows beautifully. So much so that I finished it in a single sitting - couldn't put it down. As far as this 43 year old can tell, he has done a reasonable job of getting inside the head of a 15 year old boy and speaking with his voice. Even if that voice uncannily reminded me of Holden Caulfield from time to time.
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on 28 March 2013
This is standard Hornby fare - the middle classes of modern England. Sam Jones is 16, he is an average to bright London kid, he likes skateboarding, he meets the dishy Alicia, his first real girlfriend, they make a mistake and she is pregnant. The "slam" of the title is a rather obvious skating term as Sam's world comes crashing down. He narrates his reaction to the situation - fear and running away, confused acceptance and then real pleasure in his son, but..and here reality kicks in, Sam and Alicia can share parenting but they cannot share each other. In truth young teenage parents are rarely as smart as Sam and Alicia, but you feel that the confusion and fear experienced by Sam probably is shared by a lot of young, unintended fathers. The other side of the story is that Sam's mother had him at 16 but came through it all. It is quite optimistic, not unlike the film Juno [DVD] [2007], and that might be a flaw, but it's a happy read and what's wrong with that.
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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. And Hornby doesn't entirely abandon the "maturing" theme -- it's very much about growing from a child to an adult, and delicately outlines all the conflicting emotions and problems Sam faces.

And surprisingly, though you know pretty much how the story will turn out, Hornby does throw some twists into the story, such as what's going on with Sam's mother. And the whole magical-realism aspect of it -- time travel, the talking poster -- is a little awkward at first, but eventually it settles into the plot nicely.

Sam himself is a likable kid -- he's confused, scared, and tries to be supportive despite not feeling like it. But over time, we see him turning into a young man who will handle his responsibilities. The other characters tend to be thinner -- Alicia is rather whiny, her parents are contemptuous snobs, and Sam's dad is a jerk.

"Slam" is basically a younger version of Hornby's best-loved stories -- the ones that show a boy becoming a man. In this case, literally, and with great sensitivity.
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