Verdict: "Slammed" is an emotional and inspiring journey for young adults.
Colleen Hoover’s debut novel is a coming-of-age story about eighteen-year-old Layken who is forced, after the death of her father, to move from her childhood home in Texas house to Michigan.
Layken is certain that she is going to hate it there, until her brother Kel meets Caulder, the boy next door, and Layken falls for Will, Caulder’s older brother; who introduces her to poetry slams – dramatic performances of poetry recital. But after a startling discover, they find that their relationship is off limits. As Layken struggles to maintain control over her attraction to Will, her life continues to present obstacles as she begins to suspect her mother’s reasons for moving them from Texas.
The story, narrated from Layken’s point of the view, is a credible portrayal of a young adult who is so lost in her own grief over losing her father and relocation, that she loses sight of her loved ones still around her. Hoover shows how Layken, with the help of her friends and her ability to use poetry slams as a creative outlet for her grief, is able to move through her grief and anger to restore her relationship with her mother and also become a strong, young woman. The romantic tension between Will and Layken is effectively drawn out, and nicely contrasted to Eddie’s tension-free relationship with her boyfriend. The romantic involvement that occurs between the two is dealt with tastefully and makes this young adult romance suitable for all teens.
Slammed brings the poetry slams to life, as well as the inspiration, escape from reality, and emotional release the slams provide for the students who watch and perform in the slams. Except for some typos, Slammed flows easily. Hoover’s writing is captivating in its simplicity and frankness; capturing the paradox qualities of the students’ ignorance but also their wisdom, which they reveal as they belt out their emotions in the poetry slams.
Hoover does offer up some spelled-out, cliché realizations, such as Layken’s acknowledgement that “Whatever it is you’re running from – it goes with you. It stays with you until you find out how to confront it”; but they can be somewhat easily overlooked because they suit the voices of the contemporary, high school characters. Some of the subplots, too, are run-of-the mill formulas, that scream for a Hollywood movie script; but once again, Hoover keeps the reader engrossed by weaving them together seamlessly with a simplicity that keeps the reader engrossed.
Slammed is an emotional and inspiring journey for young adults.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader
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