Friday, April 22, 2011

Slam by Nick Hornby.
Do you know how hard it is to find contemporary fiction about teenage boys? 95% of young adult material is focused on girls (and maybe their boyfriends) and most of the works with male protagonists are either fantasy or science fiction. I am trying to read the books in the young adult section of my library that have contemporary male protagonists. Slam is one of the few.
This is a story about a British teen who loves to skateboard and idolizes Tony Hawk. When he meets a gorgeous girl and they have a relationship, it leads to pregnancy. Sam tells his story in the first person and it feels quite real - but then, I'm not a teenage boy and have never been one. Anyway, Sam opens up about how scared he is, how much he wants to run away or be able to go back and live his old simple life of being a kid. But he owns up - with prodding - and advice from his poster of Tony Hawk - and actually tries to do the right thing. Sam's mom and dad also were teenage parents, and Sam desperately wants to be a better dad to his son that his father was for him.
I wish I could get boys to read this - before they have sex with their girlfriends. I don't think it would hurt for teenage girls to read it either!

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I received an autographed copy of Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life from my son and daughter-in-law for Christmas. They bought it at ‘That bookstore in Blytheville’ where Conroy had made an author visit. It was a book I never would have thought to pick up and buy, but I feel that some serendipitous hand of fate (or might it have been an adept book-seller?) placed in Andy and Cathy’s shopping basket.
I’ve been feeling a little smug at the number of books I’ve been able to read in the past three years, but compared with Conroy, I am such a reading wimp. My choices of material pales by comparison as well. He seems to have read all the classics and I am woefully remiss in those lists handed out by English professors!
Pat Conroy may have had a terrible father and a difficult childhood, but it sounds as though he had a wonderful Mom who nurtured her children with numerous trips to the library and read aloud to them daily. She led him into a love affair with words and Conroy says the reading of great books saved his life and gave him a more complete education than that which he received from his formal schooling and college education at “The Citadel” Military Academy in South Carolina.
My Reading Life is essentially an autobiography that focuses on the way teachers and friends shaped his reading habits and thereby influenced both Conroy’s personal and professional life.
With this book as my introduction to Conroy I am now motivated to read his works of fiction. Should be easy since they are all readily available in the library where I work. More great reading on my ‘to do’ list!

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