by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria Books
Book 1 in the Slammed series
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 by Colleen Hoover is the first book in her Slammed series, and centers around eighteen year old Layken, who is forced to move with her Mom and brother to Michigan after her father dies unexpectedly. Lake is dreading the move. The cold, a new school, the loss of the only home she has ever known ... until she meets Will, her handsome and quirky neighbor. After an intense first date that has them both falling fast for one another, Lake is finally looking on the brighter side of things. That is, until they both find out something that keeps them from one another. Every interaction is painful, and awkward. Is it possible for Lake and Will to figure out how to go on with their lives as just friends - or will their connection to one another prove true?
Slammed has been on my TBR for a while, but to be honest, I kept avoiding it because I think slam poetry is ... weird. But it sounded good, it has great reviews, AND its by Colleen Hoover. Which is funny to say, because I have actually never read her stuff before, but I know she is recommended often on #booktok. I actually follow her on #booktok because she is pretty funny. So I finally decided to pic the first book on my list from her - Slammed. And I fucking loved it. I thought I was going into a "New Adult" book ... and I mean, age wise, new adult lines up, but it felt very much like YA to me. Usually, I'm not really into YA unless Jennifer L Armentrout or Sarah J Maas wrote it, but I REALLY liked this book. I also usually hate the insta-love trope, but here I am, fucking gobbling this book up like its my favorite candy.
So why did Slammed win me over? Because Colleen Hoover can write a damn good, emotionally wrenching story. And unpredictable. Seriously, the things that happen in this book come out of left field, and it left me excited to turn each page. Slammed has an instantly intriguing plot for a contemporary romance. The characters are great - like, truly great. Lake is a great heroine - smart, kind, funny. A great big sister, and daughter. Does she have her moments - of course - but I feel like given the circumstances in this book, and her age, I can sympathize with her character. And Will is book boyfriend material - and honestly, more in line with how men are in the real world. I'm so used to reading romances with the big, tough alpha male - and don't get me wrong, Will is tough - but he is also a romantic. He is passionate about his family, and his career. There is just something about how Colleen writes these characters that comes off as ... real. Aside from these two - the siblings are great ---------spoiler---------> that halloween costume was amazing <--------------. The friends are awesome. Julia (Lake's mom) is brilliant. And these characters meshed with this story .... OH MY GOD I LOVED THIS BOOK!
If you want an emotionally charged romance, with heaps on tension, and rich with story and character development - well, you get it here in Slammed. And no - you don't have to like slam poetry. Yes, there is slam poetry written in there, but its so important to the story, and I found myself enjoying it. Just word of advice - don't read this book in a public setting. I was full out ugly crying while on my commute home. If the mom to the little boy who looked truly concerned about me reads this - I'm so sorry. I promise I'm okay now.
The memory of the hairclip
Will and Lake meeting
Will bandaging up Lake after she slipped
Will instructing Lake to take the longest way to the store so they can have longer talking
Their date, and first kiss
Lake's poem "Mean"
Eddie giving Lake a mini makeover to cover up that she was crying
Will being there for Lake after she finds out about her mom
Will calming Lake down by throwing her in the shower
The family dinner after they tell her brother the truth
Julia giving Lake her approval of Will
Eddie's birthday gift from her foster dad <3
The Halloween costume
Lake performing her poem, telling Will she loved him, and him going on stage, performing, and then telling her he loved her too
Julia's letter to her children on Christmas
Lake: “Wow. Is that the quickest way to the store? That drive took twenty minutes.”
He winks at me and opens his door.
Will: “No, actually it’s not.”
That’s definitely flirting. And I definitely have butterflies. Will: “My life is nothing but responsibilities. I’m raising a child, for Christ’s sake. I wouldn’t be able to put your needs first. Hell, I wouldn’t even be able to put them second.”
He slowly raises his head and brings his gaze back to mine.
Will: “You deserve better than third.” Lake: "Wasn’t my dad enough? It’s like death came and punched us square in the face.”
Eddie turns her gaze away from Will and looks at me.
Eddie: “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.” Will: “I’ve spent the last two years of my life trying to convince myself that I made the right decision for him. So my job? My career? This life I’m trying to build for this little boy? I take it very seriously. It is a big deal. It’s a very big deal to me.” Kel creates the first awkward moment when he asks why I’m so late getting home from school. Mom eyes me, waiting for my response, while Will just cuts away at his pumpkin and doesn’t look up.
Lake: “Eddie and I had detention,”
Julia: “Detention? What were you in detention for?”
Lake: “We skipped class last week, took a nap in the courtyard.”
She brings her scooper down to the table and looks at me, obviously disappointed.
Julia: “Lake, why would you do something like that? What class did you skip?” I don’t reply. I purse my lips together and nudge my head toward Will. My mother looks at Will just as he looks up from his pumpkin. He shrugs his shoulders and laughs.
Will: “She skipped my class! What was I supposed to do?”
My mother stands up and pats him on the back as she picks up the phone book.
Julia: “I’m buying you supper for that.” Will: “There was this one girl. She moved into a house on the street a while back. I still remember the moment I saw her pull up in the U-Haul. She was so confident in that thing. It was a hundred times bigger than her, yet she backed it right up without even asking for help. I watched as she put it in park and propped her leg up on the dash, like driving a U-Haul was something she did every day. Piece of cake. I had to leave for work but Caulder had already run across the street. He was imaginary sword-fighting with the little boy that had been in the U-Haul. I was just going to yell at him to come get in the car, but there was something about that girl. I just had to meet her. I walked across the street, but she never even noticed me. She was watching her brother play with Caulder with this distant look on her face. I stood beside the U-Haul, and I just watched her. I stared at her while she looked on with the saddest look in her eyes. I wanted to know what she was thinking about, what was going on in her head. What had made her so sad? I wanted to hug her so bad. When she finally got out of the U-Haul and I introduced myself to her, it took all I had to let go of her hand. I wanted to hold on to it forever. I wanted to let her know that she wasn’t alone. Whatever burden it was that she was carrying around, I wanted to carry it for her.” Julia: “Push your boundaries, Lake. That’s what they’re there for.” Will: “I want to show you why you should write poetry.”
He swings the plug around his desk and inserts it into the outlet on the wall.
Javi: “I know why people write poetry. Because they’re a bunch of emotional saps with nothin’ better to do than whine about ex-girlfriends and dead dogs.”
Lake: “You’re wrong, Javi. That’s called country music.” I reach over and stroke her hair. When I do, a few of the strands fall off in my fingers. I pull my hand back and slowly wrap them around my finger as I walk to my room and pick my purple hair clip up off the floor. I open the clip and place the strands of hair inside and snap it shut. I place the clip under my bedroom pillow and I go back to my mother’s room. I slide into the bed beside her and wrap my arms around her. She finds my hand and we interlock fingers as we talk without saying a single word. The song I listened to on repeat at Will’s house was called “Weight of Lies.” A portion of the lyrics say, The weight of lies will bring you down, follow you to every town ’cause nothing happens here that doesn’t happen there. Every time the song looped, all I heard was the part about the lies—and how they weigh you down. Tonight, as I drive toward Detroit in my Jeep, I know what those words really mean. It’s not just lies they’re referring to. It’s life. You can’t run to another town, another place, another state. Whatever it is you’re running from—it goes with you. It stays with you until you find out how to confront it. Kel: “I know what I want to be now,”
Kel says to my mother. She is folding clothes in the living room. She lays a towel on the back of the couch and looks at Kel,
Julia: “What are you going to be, sweetie?” He smiles at her.
Kel: “Your lung cancer,”
he says. She is so used to the things that come out of Kel’s mouth, she doesn’t skip a beat.
Julia: “Oh yeah? Do they sell those at Walmart?”
Kel: “I don’t think so. Maybe you could make it. I want to be a lung.”
Caulder: “Hey. Can I be the other lung?”
My mom laughs as she grabs a pen and paper off the bar and sits down.
Julia: “Well, I guess we better figure out how to sew a pair of cancerous lungs.”
Kel and Caulder flock to her and start spitting out ideas.
Lake: “Mom. You’re not.”
She looks up from her sketch at me and smiles.
Julia: “Lake, if my baby boy wants to be a cancerous lung for Halloween, then I’m going to make sure he’s the best cancerous, tumor-ridden lung there is.” Caulder: “Guess what we’re going to be? For Halloween?”
Caulder is beaming as he stands in the kitchen, pointing at the supplies on the floor.
Caulder: “Julia’s cancer!”
Will raises his eyebrows and glances at my mother, who has just returned from her bedroom with a sewing machine.
Julia: “You only live once, right?”
She places the sewing machine on the bar.
Kel: “She’s letting us make the tumors for the lungs. You wanna make one? I’ll let you make the big one.”
Will: “Uh—” Lake: “Where’s your measuring tape?”
Julia: “I don’t know. I don’t know if I have one, actually.”
Lake: “Will has one; we can use his. Will, do you mind getting it?”
Will: “I have measuring tape?”
Lake: “Yes, it’s in your sewing kit,”
Will: “I have a sewing kit?”
Lake: “It’s in your laundry room.”
I can’t believe he doesn’t know this. I clean his house once, and I can tell him where everything is better than he can?
Lake: “It’s next to the sewing machine on the shelf behind your mother’s patterns. I put them in chronological order according to pattern nu—never mind. I’ll just show you.”
Julia: “You put his patterns in chronological order?”
my mother asks, perplexed. I turn back to her as we’re headed to the door.
Lake: “I was having a bad day.” Principal Brill: “They’re dressed as cancerous lungs!” She shakes her head in disbelief. Eddie: “I thought they were rotten kidney beans,”
We both laugh.
Principal Brill: “I don’t think this is funny. They’re causing a distraction among the students! Those are very offensive and crude costumes! Not to mention disgusting. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea, but you need to take them home and change their clothes.” My focus returns to Principal Brill. I lean forward and place my arms on her desk.
Lake: “Principal Brill. Those costumes were made by my mother. My mother, who has stage-four small-cell lung cancer. My mother, who will never watch her little boy celebrate another Halloween again. My mother, who will more than likely experience a year of ‘lasts.’ Last Christmas. Last birthday. Last Easter. And if God is willing, her last Mother’s Day. My mother, who when asked by her nine-year-old son if he could be her cancer for Halloween, had no choice but to make him the best cancerous-tumor-ridden-lung costume she could. So if you think it's so offensive, I suggest you drive them home yourself, and tell my mother to her face. Do you need my address?"
Kel: “What’s going on?”
Lake: “Nothing. Y’all can go back to class. She just wanted to know where we got the materials for your costume so she can be a hemorrhoid next year.” Will: “That’s not a good idea,”
-And last but not least, not the tiniest bit least. Never regret. Thank you both for giving me the best years of my life. Especially the last one. Love, Mom