Iphigene here. It’s been a while since I’ve last wrote a review on here. I’m a bit rusty, bear with me.
Boy meets girl (girl meets boy), love at first sight, next door neighbors, a sprinkle of poetry and we’ve got ourselves a cheesy novel waiting for the YA-resistant in me to chunk Coleen Hoover’s novel to the bin, but I DIDN’T. It would be unfair of me to judge this book by those few elements that don’t make up for the story Hoover delivers.
In the past, I’ve read people rave (and rant) about Colleen Hoover’s novel, not one to really invest on YA love genre, I never felt like buying it. However, I chanced upon a second hand copy in my favorite book shop, while not really cheap, it cost far lesser than a brand new copy. So, I took this opportunity to see what this book is about. I must admit, the fact it involved poetry sort of made me want to give this book a try.
While thinking about how to go about this review, I considered a few different approaches only to settle on what made sense to me, to talk about it in context of our theme: Heartbreak, Loss and Coming of Age and the poetry behind the novel. Initially, I wasn’t planning on reviewing Slammed but given that the novel had all the elements of our theme, I was motivated to go ahead and review it.
“… I got schooled this year
A boy that I’m seriously, deeply, madly, incredibly
And undeniably in love with
And he taught me the most important thing of all—
To put the emphasis
There wouldn’t be a heartbreak if there wasn’t a love story to begin with. In Colleen Hoover’s novel, we are introduced to Lake and Will, next-door neighbors who met the first day Lake drove in the U-haul into the driveway of their new home in Detroit. It’s almost love at first sight, where the usual ‘get to know me’ questions are skipped and each go with the feeling. Lake and Will are swept off their feet with each other, but then reality breaks the dream…as it always does. The vital ‘get to know me’ questions become the stupidity of it all. Hoover’s conflict for our two protagonists was believable. I liked that she allowed the characters to be greeted by hard questions in life—its rules, the responsibilities we need to bare and the need to weigh your options. It’s easier to invest yourself as a reader when the problems are real and if anything, I think this was what I appreciated about Slammed. Yes, there were ‘to good to be real’ moments, the romance that goes with such a story, but I still liked that the life questions were real and that it had basis.
The heartbreak was coming from Will’s choice to make a clear decision on his life, they had to contend with the attraction and decide on what’s best for both of them. The heartbreak wasn’t about falling out of love, but it was about being in love, but having to consider what’s truly best.
Death. The only thing inevitable in life.
People don’t like to talk about death because
It makes them sad.
They don’t want to imagine how life will go on
All the people they love will briefly grieve
But continue to breathe.
They don’t want to imagine how life will go on
Death hovers in this book. It’s in the main characters’ past and future. I almost think of it as the undercurrent in the love story between the two. Death is the trajectory that pushes the changes in the characters’ lives. The life after losing someone pushes Lake and her family to a new state, leaving their home in Texas. It is also the propeller that deepens the understanding between her and Will. In the same way, for Will, death makes certain decision almost too difficult to make. How they deal with the aftermath of death and the inevitability of it, made Slammed interesting to me. Death is one of the inevitable harsh realities of life and when it hits us, we are often left with the question “what to do next?” It forces us to make decisions on our lives and this is what Lake and Will had to face at every point in their relationship.
Coming of Age
Sometimes life doesn’t budge.
It just gets all up in your damn way.
It blocked my plans, my dreams, my desires, my
Wishes, my wants, my needs….
Life tries to tell you what’s best for you.
What should come first
My first true encounter with losing someone was when a close family friend died. It was motorcycle accident right after Christmas and it was devastating. I remember discovering how a death of someone close to you can leave a hole in your heart that no one can fill. With that first experience with death, I was changed. It’s a kind of heartbreak that doesn’t soothe itself, it’s the kind of loss that eternal. One of the things both Will and Lake had to face at some point in their life forces them to take on the roles far beyond their age. Life, if anything, slapped them hard on their faces and in many ways, I see this as a coming of age.
While Will seems to have settled with his issues and has come to his own from the very beginning of the book, it was interesting to watch Lake play child and adult all at the same time. There was a recklessness in her that is typical of an 18 year old, but it was something that Will couldn’t completely embrace because he couldn’t live a reckless life, not anymore.
Life wants you to fight it
Learn how to make it your own.
It wants you to grab an ax and hack through the wood.
It wants you to get a sledgehammer and break
Through the concrete
Metal and steel until you can reach through and
The novels title is Slammed, it poetry that needs to be performed. While I am into poetry, Slam Poetry is a totally different ball game. The bold, italicized words in the poetry excerpts I added in this review, emphasizes the feelings and emphasis. The author’s addition of these little details made reading the Slam Poetry easier. I’m sharing a sample poetry here as performed by the more known Slam Poets, Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye:
The poetry is beautiful, I like Will’s poetry especially, the ones he delivers are interesting in texture, word choice and whatnot. I suppose, his had to be, as he is the Slam Poetry enthusiast in the story. The author uses poetry as her characters most comfortable way of expressing what couldn’t be said. I liked how it was poetry that ironed things out for them, that it was what allowed them to communicate what they couldn’t in simple sentences without being misinterpreted.
Slammed was an interesting surprise, while it still had moments wherein I would cringe, those were moments I could forgive for the story. It still isn’t for everyone, but as someone who likes to try YA to expand my horizon once in a while Slammed was a pleasant surprise. It isn’t just about LAKE and WILL, it was about life, their younger brothers, their parents and all the other things that make relationships not the isolated event we want to believe it to be. I liked that it had more to offer and that it spoke of REAL things that we all have to deal with as human beings.