Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Review: Slam
Slam Book CoverBy Nick Hornby. ISBN 978-0-141-32140-0. Other than the shorter length and larger typeset, Hornby's first crack at writing for young adults reads very much like his adult novels. A Long Way Down came the closest of any book I've read to capturing what I felt as a college freshman suffering from and later coming out of a bout of serious depression. I never found myself suddenly a teen parent, thank God, but if I did I imagine it would feel something like this. Sam experiences bouts of hopelessness and despair, as youth's freedom and infinite possibilities are suddenly replaced by the responsibilities and obligations of adulthood. Breaking this particular taboo leaves him feeling profoundly isolated, as the stress of the class distinctions between the two families quickly becomes a point of friction. A science fiction element, reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, doesn't quite work except to highlight the evolution of Sam's perspective over time. Hornby's depiction of the teenage mother, Alicia, is the most successful aspect of the book. Sam's telling of the story bends over backwards to keep his audience from siding with her, but he can't quite hide her patience, decency and strength of will. Sam and Alicia aren't exactly happy by the end of the story, but they aren't terrified either. And as teenage parents go, a baby could do a lot worse than these two.

Adam Lenhardt is a print journalist from Albany, NY. He currently reviews films from Boston.
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