Series: Slammed, Book 1
Author: Colleen Hoover
First published: January 4th 2012, Atria Books
Edition: ebook, 206 pages
Genre: Romance, drama
Age group: New Adult
Rating: ★ ★
18-year-old Layken’s once happy family now goes through a hard time, following her father’s sudden death. Besides, Layken has to deal with moving from the home in Texas she grew up in to a new one in Michigan, where her mother gets a job. Layken takes the move very closely to heart, believing it to turn out hard for her to adapt not only to life in another state but also without her dad.
Her brother Kel, though, being a 9-year-old and that’s why not having such conflicts, isn’t scared of the new home. In fact, the moment he steps out of the U-Haul he makes a new friend in also 9-year-old Caulder, living in a house across the street.
Layken is happy for her brother, but she feels lonely and nostalgic. In her opinion, there’s, supposedly, nothing to lift up her mood or make the move any easier. That is until she meets Caulder’s 21-year-old brother Will. From the first time they meet it’s an instant pull between them. Will is the most caring and attractive guy Layken has ever met.
In just a matter of three days their connection deepens. Will takes Layken on a date to a bar where he introduces her to the slam poetry, the type of reading a poetic work in front of an audience, pouring in it as much emotion as possible, in an attempt to win the competition among other performers. From Will’s performance Layken learns that both his parents were killed in a car crash, and he actually rises his brother by himself.
Layken feels strong sympathy and admiration towards Will, easily falling in love with him. Life in Michigan doesn’t seem so boring and unbearable to her anymore. Until the first day of school, when she finds out that Will is actually the teacher of her poetry selective course.
No matter how strong their feelings to each other already are, Will doesn’t want to compromise his reputation. This work at school is the only chance for him to get an education and support his brother. These are his first priorities, there’s no place left for his feelings to Layken, no matter how much the separation hurts him.
Layken is deeply wounded by Will’s rejection, she goes through a whole storm of emotions. She tries to reason his actions, yet his slips, when he would kiss her or look into her eyes only to step aside then, drive her crazy. But very soon her life becomes not that much different from Will’s. Layken’s mother has lung cancer and doesn’t have much time left. So Layken makes a similar choice in favor of her family, her feelings set aside.
But sometimes you don’t have to separate yourself from happiness while doing the right thing. Both Will and Layken soon have to reevaluate their priorities, and it’s actually the slam poetry that gives them the so needed courage.
I wasn’t very impressed with this story, though there are points in it that I liked. First of all, I should mention the introduction of the slam poetry. I’m not much into poetry at all, never been interested in it, never understood it. But I like that this approach makes the poetry more touching and alive. I liked that there weren’t many rhymes, just feelings and emotions put into words.
The whole organization and rules of the Slam Evening were also very interesting to read about. I believe it’s really an impressive show to watch. I wouldn’t mind to see it in reality, to listen to people’s readings. Besides it’s amazingly brave of these people to talk about such personal stuff in front of an audience. I find it very admirable.
Secondly, I liked the main plot of the story, it’s attempt of bringing up the problem of life and death and what’s valuable. Life is what it is, we have to accept it as there’s nothing we can do about its turns. But what we can control is our place in it. I liked how Layken’s mother’s illness is portrayed, the way the family learns about it and deals with it.
Layken’s set to spend all her time with her mother and Kel, she makes them her first priority, but it doesn’t mean that while doing so she has to cut herself off from happiness.
What I didn’t like in the story was the way the idea was presented. The book seemed very rushed, like the author tried to briefly skip through the course of events to finally get to the ending. The development of Layken and Will’s relationship is so quick, like they meet and fall in love just in the course of 2 chapters! Thus to me their romance lost its credibility and appeal.
Besides Layken is too self-centered, the way she throws temper tantrums practically on every page, made me tired. Couldn’t this girl just sit and listen quietly for once? And Will’s personality is not fully disclosed, I feel like I don’t know anything about him besides what happened to his family. But maybe it was specifically planned by the author, as the sequel of the story is apparently written from Will’s point of view.
And what’s also good about this story, though, is that it’s a very quick read. I’m glad I could finish it in one day, I wouldn’t want to spend another day on this story.