Slam – Nick Hornby

Slam is a very in depth look at what its like to be a 15 year old boy who fathers a child. The novel follows Sam on his journey through growing up. If you can call it that! Finding out his girlfriends pregnant and learning how to cope with it through to finding out that he cant cope living with her and his own mum falling pregnant so that his sister is 4 months younger than his son. Its Hornby’s attempt at young fiction and it works, to an extent.
I love Hornby, which is no surprise if you read my earlier blogs. However I think Slam is a bit off the mark. I am 22 so it’s not that long ago I was a young reader myself. My boyfriend also has a ten year old son who I try to encourage to read as much as possible. He likes to skate and likes reading so when I realised Slams protagonist loves to skate I thought it would be a good read for him. However I think Hornby didn’t get the balance of his readership down right. If I was to guess at what age group this book was for Id say mainly 13-15 year olds and it’d be for boys. Having known quite a few boys of around this age I’d say not many of them read for fun. Taking that out of the equation I’d say the ones that do like to read for fun would find this book a tad too young in places. The content is of the right age but I don’t think the character passes well for the age he is, especially when you take into account the fact that he’s meant to be 18 and looking back on his earlier life.
I enjoyed the book and wanted to finish it quickly to know what happens in the end and stuff like that but the practicalities of the book just weren’t right. I don’t believe that a 15 year old kid would believe his poster talked to him for a start and the “whizzes” to the future were a bit too strange, they seemed more like bad dreams to me, which is what they may have been but Sam believed that his hero Tony Hawk whizzed him to the future and back.  That’s to me seems to be the kind of thing that a 12 or 13 year old would think. But as I’ve mentioned I don’t think the content is right for that age.
The book was quite predictable which I got over relatively quickly and was written well in style for a young adult book. I just think that maybe some bits could have done with changing a little so that the audience was more set. I honestly believed that a ten year old would be able to read the book and am a little disappointed that I won’t be able to pass Hornby’s writing onto my known younger generation yet but let’s hope that Hornby’s next young adult/ children’s fiction hits the nail on the head.
I am aware I have focussed on the negative here and that’s bad of me. I did enjoy the book and wanted to see it out to the end. It raised good points about teenage pregnancy, about what it means to be a young parent and about differences in status. I felt sad and happy and angry and allsorts when I read it so it wasn’t as if the emotional attachment wasn’t there but there was just something a little wrong about mixing the fantasy world of time travel and posters talking to you with the harsh reality of teenage pregnancy and sex.