SLAM, by Nick Hornby
Interest Level: Upper Grades
When I first picked this book up, I was browsing the YA aisle at Barnes and Noble, looking for hot new reads for my increasingly insatiable readers at PHS. I read on the jacket that it was about a boy who deals with the perplexities of his life by conversing with Tony Hawk, via a poster of the skating virtuoso that hangs on his wall. Now, for the part that is going to make the fact that I'm OLD glaringly obvious....for some reason, I deduced that Tony Hawk was a hockey player...and promptly put it back on the shelf. Living in South Texas, I couldn't imagine that many of my young adult patrons would clamor to read about a teenage skating aficionado who waxes philosophical with an image on a poster. At some point, a few months later, I heard someone say "Tony Hawk" and was like, "I didn't know you like Hockey." My daughter, who was in the library at the time, rolled her eyes, and said, "OMG Mom...seriously? Tony Hawk isn't a HOCKEY PLAYER...he's a skater" (or something like that) Well, that comment, aside from making me feel ancient and out of touch (when did I turn into my mother?) also made me realize that I needed to purchase this book for my library. The book is on order, so I couldn't "read" it, so I did the next best thing--I downloaded the audio book and listened to it on a road trip. While it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, I think it is sure to be a hit with some of the guys in our library.
SLAM is a slang term used by skaters to describe a wipe-out while attempting a trick. (terms I also learned while listening) It's about a fifteen year old skater (who worships Tony Hawk...he would even swear on his autobiography, which he describes as his Bible) who finds himself free-falling in slow motion toward the most harrowing slam of his life--finding out that his girlfriend is pregnant. While trying to deal with the emotional upheaval of becoming a father at fifteen, he begins talking to a poster of his hero--and the hero talks back, offering advice, and even swooshing him into the future a couple of times--kind of like fast-forward glimpses into what fatherhood will hold for him. It's a quick read (7 hour listen) and is full of funny as well as poignant moments. I don't think this one is going to spend a lot of time on my shelves.