This book was not what I expected - at all. I decided I would read it for this Blog and to promote to skaters at school. The main character, sixteen year old Sam is a dedicated skater whose one hero in life is Tony Hawk. He has read Tony's biography many times and talks to the poster of Tony on his wall, imagining that Tony speaks back with sound and sage advice. Sam's divorced parents had him when they were 16 years old themselves and were forced to marry for his sake. He sometimes feels the unspoken burden of having ruined his mother's chances for success. At a business party for his mother's work Sam meets Alicia. Their relationship becomes sexual very quickly and Sam finds himself going from absolutely consumed by it to finding it very suffocating. Just as he call it off he is told by Alicia that she is pregnant. SLAM is a hard fall in skating terminology and the slam Sam experiences is so intense as he lives in the guilt of repeating his parents past mistakes.
Sam's narration of the story is very believable. Hornby's characters are always realistic and in this his first novel for teens he strikes the right note again. There is an added twist as TH somehow transports Sam into the future. This happens a couple of times and seems to serve to reassure Sam about the events to come and give him hope that it will not be the disaster he fears. I enjoyed this novel's humour and honesty. I am not sure teenage boys will read it though. Here is Nick Hornby himself chatting about the book. Also a review by Brian Farrey for Teen Reads