slam

hornby1.jpgslam, by nick hornby.

as i said in a recent post, i’ve started reading a handful of young adult fiction. i find it helpful to see what kids are glomming onto as their books of choice. but this book, i picked up because i’m a nick hornby fan (hornby wrote about a boy, high fidelity, fever pitch, a long way down, and many others. see this amazon page for all of those.).

to my knowledge, slam is hornby’s first young adult book. i’m fascinated to hear (anyone know?) why he chose to write for this audience at this point in his career. it seems more limited for an already-successful author.

anyhow. slam is the first-person story of a 15 year-old london boy who gets his (semi-ex-) girlfriend pregnant (hornby totally nails the teen voice, btw). sam (the narrator) also has an obsession with skateboarding (though he loathes that term, and insists on calling it skating, even when people think he must mean figure skating), and, particularly, tony hawk. sam “prays” (he never calls it that, but it clearly IS that) to a tony hawk poster in his room, and hears responses from tony hawk that are all lines out of tony hawk’s autobiography (which sam has read 40 or 50 times, enough to have access to all the lines). then there’s this weird element, where tony hawk somehow zooms sam into the future a couple times. you get the sense it might be a dream (and sam wonders this also); but he knows people in the future he hasn’t met in present time, and eventually does meet them. so the future-zipping thing seems to be real, somehow.

even with sam’s knowledge of aspects of his future (the future bits all happen after his son is born), sam still discovers that it’s not set in stone. the general framework seems to come true (some day); but the details are still highly pliable, based on his decisions.

this is the tool that hornby uses to talk about responsibility, decision-making, and other important teen issues. really, i can hardly conceive of a book for teens, about choices and responsibility, that wouldn’t come off as preachy. this doesn’t. i’d highly recommend this book to teen readers (and to parents, for their kids).

UPDATE
thanks to steve carter for this, an article in which hornby explains why he wrote a young adult book.

6 thoughts on “slam”

  1. fantastic – got to get this. It is a little bit gauling that you, in america, have read this from a uk based author, before I have . . . stop being ahead of the game, just ocassionally!

  2. Hi Marko,
    How should a normal small group meeting look like?
    I mean, what elements must be included, in which order? I´m sorry about this question but I want to start small groups this semester and was wondering this. Thanks!

  3. hi heidy — that was random! i was trying to figure out what your question had to do with the book “slam”, and i’ve decided you just didn’t know how to email me! :)

    there isn’t a “norm” for small groups. the days of formulaic youth ministry are gone. you need to discern what your group needs. but, certainly, discussion and journeying together through spiritual topics is the basic gist, rather than a leader “teaching” (in a traditional way).

  4. I would just like to say that, being a young adult myself, as well as a huge fan of Nick Hornby, I am so incredibly excited about reading this book. Thanks for making me aware of its availability!

  5. It’s awesome to see that others are getting into the Young Adult Book world. Sometimes it’s scary to see what they are reading. I’ve gotten involved in the teen book discussions at the local library, so not only am I reading what the kids are reading, but I’m also helping them to explore what the books is trying to tell them about life, people, family, and most importantly about God. It’s been amazing to see how the teens are catching on to reading books and reading betweent he lines for a sense of God’s presence in the book. (of course in the discussion I’m not allowed to mention God unless the kids bring it up. However they seem to do so all the time.)
    Happy reading Marko!

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