Adventures in Reading

Nick Hornby’s Slam
October 13, 2007, 11:18 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was fortunate enough to take home an Advance Uncorrected Proof or Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of Nick Hornby’s new book Slam (To be released this coming Tuesday in the U.S.A., but already released in England.), and am roughly 2/3s of the way through the book. Before I get too far ahead of myself, ARC books are not necessarily going to exactly represent the final result of a book. However, unless the book undergoes some serious editing the ARC provides a fairly accurate picture of the final novel. This is my first time reading and discussing an ARC copy, and I forewarn anyone who reads the book upon publication that there is certainly a chance events could be altered.

I must admit that as much as I am enjoying the book I am discovering more and more issues I have with it. The plot in a nutshell: teen pregnancy. I commend Hornby in his writing that thus far he has successfully avoided making Slam a moralistic tale, and has done a fairly decent job into dipping into a young male’s psyche. (Something Hornby always seems quite talented at, that is, dipping into the masculine mind.) In the story Sam and Alicia meet, briefly date and break up, she finds out she is pregnant. While all of this is happening Sam is learning his life lessons from a mother who had Sam as a teenager and from skateboarder Tony Hawks (who Sam gets advice from thanks to the skater’s biography). Once Sam discovers Alicia is definitely pregnant he begins having dreams of different possibilities for his future life.

However, so far I feel that Hornby has awkwardly dealt with many of the pertinent issues that should have been commented on in greater detail: abortion, adoption, and raising the child. Adoption thus far has not been mentioned once. Abortion has been rather callously brushed over as Alicia’s parents attempt to talk her into getting one and accuse Alicia that her stance on abortion is from “Christian evangelists.” Raising the child has been decided as the option to take, but still with stinted discussion. It is a sticky line to walk to create an enjoyable read on the topic of teen pregnancy that is directed at teenagers that does not too quickly become preachy. Simultaneously though, neglecting to discuss such issues seems irresponsible.

Ideally I was not even going to post until I had entirely finished the book, but I read a passage that gave me a lot to think about. When Sam is mostly sure that Alicia is pregnant he runs away from his London home to Hastings, but returns soon after. At this 2/3s point into the novel, Sam (who is clueless and unsure of just about everything) and Alicia will ideally be living together at her parent’s house after the baby is born, or so this is told to the parents. Sam’s mother reminds him that more or less because he is not stuck (i.e. physically, I suppose) with the baby he does not need to sacrifice as much and could still live at home and simply visit the baby.

Regardless, I still have high hopes and expectations for the latter portion of the novel. I also would be quite excited to see the final novel have an appendix of information regarding websites, organizations, and groups to contact for teenagers to obtain birth control and about all of their options if such an accident should occur. Here’s to hoping.

And additional reviews of Slam from Out of the Blue and Shelf Love.

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