SLAM by Nick Hornby. Published in 2007 by The Penguin Group.

"Do you want to know the results of the pregnancy test?"
"I think I can guess."

Sam Jones, a teenage boy from London enjoys spending his time at Grind City skateboarding with friends. His biggest worries include spending as much time as possible learning new skateboarding tricks, trying to understand math, and attempting to get girls who want nothing to do with him. When Sam meets Alicica, a girl from a different school, everything changes. The first few weeks with Alicia are like nothing that Sam has ever experienced and he just can't seem to get enough of her. She persuades him to have sex early on in their relationship and this quickly becomes just about the only thing that they do together. When Sam isn't at school he is usually spending time alone with Alicia in her bedroom. He even forgets about his favorite hobby, skateboarding, unless Alicia is busy doing something else.

Sam's interest in Alicia quickly fizzles as he becomes bored by their relationship. He stops going to her house without even a call to let her know that he's no longer interested. He easily picks up his old hobbies and habits but just when he thinks that Alicia is out of his life for good he get's a life changing call. Alicia is pregnant, the baby is his, and she's planning on keeping it. Quickly Sam's dreams of going off to an Art school to become a graphic designer go down the drain. He now has to worry about how he and Alicia will raise a baby and where they will live. Sam doesn't know how to handle the stress and decides to "run away" to Hastings. There he finds a job helping out an older gentleman for twenty pounds a day. After a day of work, Sam decides that raising a baby would be better than waiting around for an old man all day and night so he goes home to be with Alicia.

As soon as Sam finds out that pregnancy is a possibility he begins having dreams about the future. Sam believes that his idol, Tony Hawk, showed him what's ahead because he is constantly turning to the pro-skater for advice. Through these dreams, which later become reality, Sam realizes that his life as a teenager is over and everything is about to get a lot more complicated. The months prior to the birth of their child are spent mentally preparing for the dramatic change through birthing and parenting classes. Rufus (or Roof) Jones is born on September 12th and Sam moves in with Alicia' family to begin their new life together. However, things don't turn out the way Sam expects. Alicia and Sam end up separated but are still on good terms with one another and Sam still gets to help raise Roof.

Nick Hornby does a spectacular job of showing us what's inside the mind of a fifteen year old boy with a lot on his plate. We see Sam's life evolve from a carefree existence to an extremely complicated situation. He changes from a boy to a man in a matter of months and we are invited along for the ride. Hornby gets readers laughing through his witty British humor and possibly crying because of Sam's helpless situation. Both adults and adolescents can appreciate and enjoy this work by Nick Hornby,

Recommendations for Teachers

While many teachers may be reluctant to teach a book like "Slam" because it includes topics such as sex and teen pregnancy, the novel is absolutely teachable. Though there are a few touchy subjects in the novel none of them are graphic or vulgar in any way so it woud not be uncomfortable or inappropriate to teach it to high school students. There are many life lessons that can be learned from a character like Sam. After reading this novel students will know the possible consequences of having a sexual relationship at such a young age, and they may decide to be more careful in their own lives. Another moral lesson that can be learned from Sam and Alicia's situation is to accept the consequences of your actions and to take responsibility for the outcome. Sam chose to be a father to his child financially and emotionally, despite his young age at the time. Sam also continued to go to school even though he had so many other responsibilities and this makes him a protaganist that any student could admire. Prior to introducing "Slam" to your high school classroom it is extremely vital to explain the topic of the book so that students and parents are prepared. It may also be helpful to provide the meaning to some of the British slang that is included in the young adult novel in order to help students understand the vocabulary. As long as students are educated and informed about Hornby's novel they will be fully prepared to read it.

About the AuthorHORNBY.jpg

Born in London England (4-17-1957) Nick Hornby originally went to Cambridge University to write screen plays. He is also the author of many young adult novels such as About a Boy, High Fidelity, How to be Good, A long way down, and Fever Pitch. When he is not writing, Hornby is also an English teacher, journalist, and Dad.

Multimedia (Video or Audio)

Additional Resources:
  1. Nick Hornby's Official Site
  2. University of Cambridge
  3. Teen Pregnancy Prevention
  4. StayTeen
  5. Information for Teen Parents
  6. Dictionary of British Slang
  7. Tony Hawk's Official Site
  8. Pregnancy Information
  9. Sex Education
  10. Help for Pregnant Teens