I read the blurb of the $13.59 copy of Nick Hornby's 'Slam', and my eyes didn't go wide with fascination, nor did my feet eagerly scuffle to the cash register. It was nothing new - teen pregnancy in the father's point of view, unsure of where his responsibilities lie and what is important. However, he is a bestselling author and I thoroughly enjoyed another three books of his, and so as a loyal fan, I ended up walking home with a plastic bag from Borders.
The little snippets of reviews from newspapers were quite promising, as was one of my friend's response to the novel. I began to read it, and instantly, I felt as if I'd known Sam for years. Yes, Sam is the main character; a sixteen-year-old skateboarder (or as he says, the more artistic term - skater) and the son of divorced parents, living with his mother. His family has been known to constantly screw up, and he's their biggest hope, but blood takes over all in the end - he gets his girlfriend, Alicia pregnant.
As I read on, having a nice chortle in between almost every paragraph, I could imagine Sam's every move and every facial expression. It did not occur to me as if it was a novel written by a fully-grown Englishman, but a friend sitting right next to me, telling me his life story over an ice cream. Despite a rather cliché plot, there were moments in the book where you thought, "Hah, he's definitely gonna do _____ next," and the character would do nothing like that at all.
In the end, I figured out that the story was not about the ordeals of dealing with teenage pregnancy, but that Hornby only used that as a vessel to convey a much bigger picture. Through Sam's dealings with the situation, Hornby slowly and handily, was able to encompass the process of growing up in only 342 pages, with the vocabulary of a teenage boy.
It started off as a not-too-promising novel, but with the charm and genuineness of the characters, the splashes of humor, and an experience everyone can identify with - it turned out to be quite worth my while. I think Nick Hornby's going to remain a favorite author of mine for the time being.