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.
Slammed series is my first foray to Colleen Hoover works, which turns out to be one of my best reads this year. I’ve read all three books in a row two months ago, and reread the first book, Slammed last night. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting my second visit to Lake and Will’s story to be as emotional as the first time I read it. I thought that knowing what will happen to them will at least lessen the emotional impact of my reading experience but I was wrong. In fact, it was more intense than what I remember when I first read the book. I’m not exactly sure what’s with Slammed that makes it so powerful, but I am sure that there is something in Lake and Will story that really touch my heart.
To those who aren’t familiar with the story yet, Slammed follows Layken/Lake as she start a new life with her mom, and younger brother, Kel. After her father’s death, her Mom decided to leave their house in Texas and move to Michigan. Lake isn’t ready yet to start anew, she is still grieving and hurt so moving to a new place is not a welcome decision on her part. But having no choice she went with her only family reluctantly. New place, new home, new life and new neighbor for her. On the first day of their move, she met Will, the boy who lives across the street from their new home. Meeting Will and his little brother somehow make the difference, suddenly Michigan isn’t looking so bad anymore for Lake. When Will takes Lake on poetry slamming she finds herself falling hard for him. It is fast but it is also real. Everything seems great between them until they found out that they can’t be together. All of a sudden they have to put a distance between them and try to go back to being just friends. But being just friends isn’t easy especially if they both know that they feel more than that, and it also doesn’t help that they can’t avoid each others. Their every day life is already tangle and connected in a way they can’t undo. They are neighbors, their little brothers are best of friends, and they went to the same school everyday. The tension is always there which makes it all hard to just pretend that nothing really exist between them. The more they try to fight their feelings for each other, the more it goes deeper and the further they are pulled apart. But that’s not the only issue, Lake have to face another huge blow from life itself, and this time she have no choice but face the inevitable.
Once, I said to a friend that any novel with a poem or lyrics in it is a winner for me, but that is not true. I encountered few novels that didn’t make it to my expectations. I tend to build higher expectations to stories that uses lyrics and rhymes as I love poetry so much. If you browse more this blog, you’ll see some of my poems or some of my random thoughts about poetry. So having a story that focus or highlight poetry and rhymes is like a bonus points but it needed to be use well in the story and not just randomly tossed to add something different. It needs to blend in and mean something. I’m glad that Colleen Hoover succeed in this part. She not only make poetry as part of the story but also use poems to define her characters and shows their emotions and feelings. She makes poetry essential to the plot and allow her characters show their growth and reveal their depths through it. Most of the characters in this book open up their life, stories and their selves through slamming poetry with an audience on stage or in a classroom. Colleen did an amazing job in conveying their pains, hopes and dreams through lines and rhythms.
Lake and Will are both engaging characters. As individual they carry not only depth within them but also realistic appearances. They are in complicated situations most of the times and still they never give up and tried to act responsible even it is so hard to do so.
Lake though emotional and easily swayed by her heart never overstepped the boundary of being real. Life keeps on slamming her and testing her but she never give up. She takes every blows in her own terms, she maybe be slowing down sometimes but she never abandoned her spot. Yes, there are some in-denial stage but just as said in the book, it’s all part of stages of grieving. Sometimes she is irrational and inconsistent too but she remain strong through it all. Everything she done whether good or bad were all understandable for someone as young as her.
Will is simply selfless, there so much to him that what he is showing or telling. All the act and restrictions he made for himself exist for a reason, and Lake’s Mom reveal a few in the end of this book. When Will is explaining to Lake what slam is, and he answer smiling: “it’s poetry”, and “it’s what I’m all about.” I swoon. I just love a man who knows his poetry. They are so easy to love. But more than his talent what I also like in Will is how responsible he is. At such a young age he is mature and responsible enough to take charge of his and his little brother life. He takes care of Coulder, raising him on his own while working and studying at the same time. He is Coulder guardian, brother, and friend. Their relationship as brothers is one of the best part of this book. There so much love and respect between them.
Will and Lake relationships is not only emotionally charged but also realistically portrayed. Though they are both maneuvering heavy life circumstances, every decisions they make and every issue they face were perfectly natural. Nothing is too much handled or written for the sake of making things more dramatic between them. Even the heavy situations were seemingly realistic, because those things can really happen to anyone. These two characters are very real that I shared their joy and pains as they fought to keep each other. Their emotions were really palpable and raw.
The side characters were also spot on. They exist for a reason and surely not just for decorations or add on in the story. They all bring something in the plot, from Julia whose wisdom and life advises will make readers think about their own life; Coulder and Kel innocence and acceptance brings a little light to this sad story and making it more easy to heart; and to Eddie’s honesty and loyalty that puts balance opposite to Lake constantly heartbroken character. These characters had their own story and play important roles to Lake and Will’s story.
Beside from Lake and Will’s love story, Slammed is also a story of life in general. It offers more than just chemistry and romance because Slammed is also about families journey. Families who experienced losses and death, pain and heartache, and above all love and acceptance. It is about having faith, hope and love. It shows that life is situational, that we are all go through certain transitions and phases one point in our life, and we need to face them in any way we want. And no matter how we deal with it, it will move into something else and we need to face the consequences or rewards of our actions later on. It is just how life goes.
“Don’t take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it”.
There’s just so much to love in this book. The simplicity, and rawness of the story were realistic and engaging. The characters are alive and have depth. The poetries are powerful and moving. Even the song references are fitting and well used. The song lyrics of The Avette Brothers used in start of each chapters are perfect, I can’t believe Colleen Hover finished writing the book first before adding those songs lyrics. Each lines she used totally match the chapters of the book. Her writing style is simple yet powerful.
Slammed is one of the most heartfelt and emotional story I have read. It is riveting, beautiful, and passionate read that twisted my heart with sweet pain, makes my chest feel heavy with overflowing emotions, and reminds me that sometimes life happens and we all have to deal with it. It is an intense novel full of hardships, heartbreak and at the same time love and hope. Slammed will forever hold a space in my heart.