Very good article today in the Washington Post, about Nick Hornby and his new novel. The novel is SLAM and it is something of a sleeper because you probably won't see it in the regular novel section of your local bookstore. Why?
As in Young Adult, a category of book that book stores tend to shove in the back. That's right, SLAM is published as a Young Adult book. And while I can heartily recommend SLAM to any teenager looking for a good book to read, I can also recommend it, just as heartily, to adults; it definitely challenges the whole idea of categorizing novels. (Shouldn't Catcher in the Rye be YA?)
SLAM is a brilliant novel, regardless of how you categorize it, but I only knew about it because the YA section is on the way to bathroom in my local Barnes & Noble. Now I am recommending it to friends. It is a word of mouth winner, a hidden gem. (Especially if you have a lot of literary friends who don't got to the bathroom at B&N, you get a chance to say "Oh, you haven't read Hornby's latest?")
this is THE book I would give to a son or daughter who is entering tween-hood. I can't imagine a more effective way of conveying the personal impact of teen pregnancy. Yet it is a brilliant read for all of us adults, particularly those who have almost been there and almost done that. The Post's Bob Thompson really got it right when he said "It's hard not to feel that Hornby has been through precisely the same thing in the quite recent past." Sure enough, the whole time I was reading SLAM--and I spread it out over about 5 days to prolong the pleasure--I was flashing on the agonizing summer of '72 when my 16 year-old girlfriend told me she was 'late.'
Not only is SLAM a book that transcends generations, it also transcends geography. When I first read Hornby I thought he would have limited appeal beyond the British Isles (the place I was born and raised). That misconception was blown away by Stephen Frears excellent big screen rendition of High Fidelity on American soil. I would venture to guess that SLAM is as equally accessible to American teenagers as it is to Brits.
To sum up, SLAM is definitely a "must read" book of 2007 and 2008 and every annual intake of tween-agers everywhere, for decades to come.
p.s. Major kudos to Tony Hawk for his consent to the whole 'talking poster' device that Hornby uses. I expect he will see increased sales of his autobiography Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder as a result.