Slammed by Surprise
When I first heard this book featured slam poetry (performance poetry, kind of like music lyrics without the melody), I hesitated to read it. While I love to read and write novels, poetry has never been my thing. Sometimes I just don't get it, and that frustrates me.
But am I
glad I gave this book a shot! The poetry is a small percentage of the novel, but it's an emotionally packed
percentage. The slam poetry is a way to understand the characters like dialogue and exposition could never accomplish.
Layken (affectionally called Lake by her mom) is 18. When her father died from a heart attack five months ago, her mother uprooted Lake and her younger brother Kel to Ypsilanti, Michigan, where her mother could find a better-paying job. Understandably, Lake is angry about changing schools for her last year of high school. That would be rough!
Her brother Kel seems to take the change in stride, especially when he meets a neighbor boy Caulder who is close to his age and temperament. They become fast friends. Luckily for Lake, Caulder has an older brother who is spicy hot: Will. Will is 21 and he takes an instant liking to Lake. Maybe Michigan won't be so bad?
Lake and Will are such endearing characters. But there are so many wonderful secondary characters as well. At first I wondered if Kel had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the way Lake describes her brother:He's a strange kid, but I couldn't love him more. He has a game he likes to play which he calls 'backwards day' where he spends most of the time walking everywhere backwards, talking backwards and even requests dessert first.
"Hurry to says Mom Layken!" he says, backwards.
But then I figured out he just has an expansive imagination. Both Kel and Caulder are good kids, and it's hilarious when they stage a snowman death scene behind the car. Kel helps Lake deal with a shocker later in the story.
Lake has her ups and downs with her mother, but I thought this maternal advice before Lake's first date with Will is excellent:"There are three questions every woman should be able to answer yes to before they commit to a man. If you answer no to any of the three questions, run like hell...Does he treat you with respect at all times? That's the first question. The second question is, if he is the exact same person twenty years from now that he is today, would you still want to marry him? And finally, does he inspire you to want to be a better person? You find someone you can answer yes to all three, then you've found a good man."
Nick is a classmate she meets who's OBSESSED with the vaunted Chuck Norris. He has a different Chuck Norris joke for Lake each day, like "Chuck Norris got a g-mail account today. It's email@example.com."
(It took me a while to figure that one out!)
Here's a little Chuck Norris humor I found myself:
And Eddie becomes Lake's best friend. I love how she uses her difficult past as a source of wisdom in getting what she wants from life. She's a big reason Lake and her mother strengthen their relationship.Eddie turns her gaze away from Will and looks at me.
"It wasn't death that punched you, Layken. It was LIFE. Life happens. Shit happens. And it happens a LOT. To a LOT of people."
So true. Somehow this story makes the awful things that happen in life seem not so awful, and that's some powerful writing. This story has some twists--one I saw coming and the other I didn't. The romance is sweet and ethical. I can't get to [b:Point of Retreat|13496084|Point of Retreat (Slammed, #2)|Colleen Hoover|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1330543249s/13496084.jpg|19038910] fast enough!