Monday, April 11, 2016

Reads for Writers: The Slammed Trilogy by Colleen Hoover

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          Colleen Hoover’s trilogy for young adults, Slammed, Point of Retreat, and This Girl, follows the love affair of the tragedy-filled lives of 18-year-old high school senior Layken Cohen and 21-year-old neighbor Will Cooper. In this romantic trilogy, neither of the main characters is sick or dying, but death plays a big part in both of their families’ lives.

           Furthering the depth of emotions involved, the novels showcase poetry slams—and the poems are not only fantastic, but integral to the plot—as characters can share deeper thoughts through poems than conversations.
          Hoover, who writes eloquent prose, not only includes the illuminating poems the characters perform on stage, she bolds and italicizes words so readers know how they sound and, therefore, have a better sense of how the characters feel.
Hoover’s poetry is vigorous—the poems are part of a poetry slam after all. She uses verbs of muscle and adjectives of exactitude (Mary Oliver's phrase) perfectly. No topic is off limits.
I didn’t include any poem excerpts as the poems need to be read in their entirety as they tell stories. I don’t have permission to reprint a whole poem.
          However, here is Layken’s reaction to hearing the poem “Blue Sweater” at her first slam on page 49 of Slammed:

The lights come back up and the audience roars. I take a deep breath and wipe tears from my eyes. I’m mesmerized by her ability to hypnotize an entire audience with such powerfully portrayed words. Just words. I’m immediately addicted and want to hear more.

          Layken hasn’t yet heard Will, a favorite of the audience and the judges, perform. Her reaction to his poem “Death” on pp. 53-55:

I find myself hoping he gets lost on his way back to our booth so I have time to absorb this. I have no idea how to react…The Will I watched walk up to the stage is not the same Will I’m watching walk toward me. I’m conflicted, I’m confused, and most of all I’m taken aback. He was beautiful…He put it all out there, right in front of me.

…I don’t understand the connection I feel with him. It all seems so fast. I put my hand on top of his and pull it to my mouth, then gently kiss the inside of his palm as we hold each other’s stare…

…It feels exhilarating. Or I feel exhilarated. I can’t tell which. All I know is that I wish the last two hours of my life could repeat for an eternity.

          As much as I enjoyed these novels, Slammed and Point of Retreat from Layken’s point of view and This Girl from Will’s point of view, I would also love to read an entire book of slam poetry written by the multi-talented Colleen Hoover. Like Layken, I’m addicted.

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