Monday, May 13, 2013

{Book Review} Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Title: Slammed
Series: Slammed #1
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: September 2012 by Atria
Originally Self-Published January 15, 2012

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Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

And then some...

I've come to figure out I am not a book club girl. Why? Because I can't stick to the reading assignment. Divide the chapters up over a freaking month? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Slammed, about four hours reading time, give or take. Seriously. A little longer including the obligated pee break. 

Direct Quote to my ladies at the Mafia (you know who you are)...
I'm a firm believer that certain things fall into your life at the exact right times. You ladies are a great example, and then there's Slammed by Colleen Hoover! I laughed, I cried, I giggled, and tears of both sadness and joy streamed down my face. Oddly, I feel much lighter now!

From the end of April until about now, my life tends to get pretty hectic. We've had a tragedy or two inside this household, not unlike many others. Often I'm terrified to read anything that might be remotely heart-breaking, but Colleen's book was chosen for our book club read this month, so I thought "Why not?" (I'm pretty sure I even voted for it.) I would ask, as I often do, "Why didn't I read that sooner?" but it fell into my lap when fate meant for it to, and I'm so very lucky.

The Short of It:
Are you ready for layers packed upon layers of yummy reading goodness? I certainly was!

Ah, Layken or Lake if you're Will. Sad and uprooted after her father's death, she finds herself in Michigan. Now, I'm telling you, I'm a Texas girl myself, and how any good Texas mother could drag her baby to Michigan is beyond me. When I first read this, I was horrified. Literally. I mean, I love all you peeps from Michigan, but this is Texas! Okay, so I eventually understand her mother's motives, but I would be just a little pouty if I were forced to move anywhere but the Carribean, or a secluded island. But Layken's really not that pouty. Sure she's sad because not only has she lost her father, but she's being transplanted to another state at the start of her senior year! She's making the best of it for her mother and her little brother, Kel.

Then there's the boy next door, Will. I mean isn't there always? Except he's not. He's not the typical bad-boy next door, he's not even the good-boy next door. He's the stranger from across the street who's had a tragedy of his own and  now instead of playing college football he's raising his little brother, Caulder, while attending college and working an internship. He's a busy boy, without no time for a relationship. Until he notices the cute girl sitting behind the steering wheel of the U-Haul truck across the street who stops sulking long enough to play Zombie with her little brother and his newly made friend.

I wish I could say things were that simple, in this book or in life generally. Lake and Will have a chance for one single date before everything changes. Lake and Will, the two people who need each other the most, aren't allowed to be together. Not because of those pesky parents, or even age ranges, but because Will can't afford to lose his internship and Layken can't stop going to school. She's made a couple of friends, but no one like Will.

Layken's heartache doesn't stop at Will, but I'll go no further with the storyline as there is so much left to tell, and so much a reader should not experience through one blogger's eyes.

My Overall Opinion:
In all honesty, my summary sucks. I can't do this book justice without going into a ten page essay on it's merits. Overall, I'd call the theme edgy, but not necessarily dark. Two families are negotiating their way through the most un-perfect storm the only way they know how. One day at a time.

Layken's mom is a doll. And an exceptionally smart woman. Reading this book as a mother has given me wisdom when dealing with children. "let them carve pumpkins when they need to" (that one you'll need to read the book to understand, and "while you must choose the battles you pick with your children, it's important not to pick that many."

I love the culture of poetry slamming, I love that this book shows strong male characters hitting back at the world with their words in a civilized manner. And the Avett Brothers? Has anyone ever seen them in concert? I haven't, but my sister has and she told me how amazing they were. I looked up a few videos on YouTube and became enthralled with their enthusiasm. Watching them play, even on my laptop, is exhilarating. But to read their lyrics, to understand them in reference to Slammed gave me a complete different appreciation for them. Eventually Will refers to them as philosophers and I'm not too sure he's wrong.

And Finally:
Now, if my words are not a straight out endorsement of Slammed, perhaps you'll read a few other reviews or just pick up the book, because there's just so much greatness packed inside. The characters are amazingly strong, even during their weakest moments. They're funny and upbeat, tragic and sad, but mostly, they are inspiring.

In the end, when the tears were cried, and the giggles laughed, life felt lighter and I breathed easier.

Until...I started Point of Retreat (Slammed #2)

A Review by Kristin

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