Main Characters

  • Sam
  • Alicia
  • Sam's mother (Annie)
  • Sam's father
  • Rubbish
  • Rabbit
  • Tony Hawk (TH)
  • Alicia's mother: Angela Burns
  • Alicia's father: Robert Burns
  • Rufus ("Roof") Jones (Sam and Alicia's son)

Chapter overview

Chapter 1:
Introducing Sam's family structure (parents divorced, living with his mum); Alicia; skating, Tony Hawk and his importance for Sam, college plans; the whole thing happenend "a couple of years ago" (when Sam was 15) "foreshadowing" : something to worry about will happen - but we'll get to that. "Everything seemed to have come together. And so obviously it was time to go and screw it all."

Chapter 2:
Sam's mum had him with 17, now she is 32; introducing Sam's skater friends Rabbit and Rubbish, family misfortune ("people slip up on the first step"); Alicia and her family, how they met (fixed up by mums), music they like, A.'s Ex-boyfriend (wanted sex, she didn't); teenagers wanting babies (Sam considers them stupid); talking to Rabbit about Alicia; meeting Alicia for a date, talking about future plans (Sam: art college, Alicia:model), first sex (Sam does not want to do it...), stealing a condom

Chapter 3:
always together with A., watching TV, going for walks, A. says she loves Sam; Mum starts to worry: A.and S. spending too much time together is „not healthy“; S: „I can’t be bad“ (lying, stealing); being separated from A. for an evening: „torture“, „like not breathing“, A. not answering her phone: jealousy; S. going to see a movie with mum, she meets a guy: Mark; mum asking about S.and A. having sex (pp.62-64), she wants to meet A. „properly“, THE NIGHT it happened or „half happened“ (S. embarrased, blushing, cannot talk about it); S. considers not wearing a condom and wanting a baby at 15 „stupidity“; A. visits for dinner, Sam’s mum and A. talk about having a baby at 16 – S. feels uncomfortable.

Chapter 4:
things with A.stop being as good, S. does not feel the same about her; goes skating again, visits A. anyway so his mum does not realize things are not going so well; more information about A.’s dad (Hip Hop, wearing a stud, literature teacher at college), S. is smarter than A. (helps her with maths), A.’s parents think: A. is the genius, S. the „nice dim kid“ (their attitude: pp74-76); S. "bored sick" of A.; thinking about Sex in general (pp.78/9); S. thinks of breaking up, however, A. is not bored with him; Mum&Mark

Chapter 5:
other girls notice S., meeting Nicky – S.’s attitude about teenagers wanting babies (pp.84/5);
S.'s 16th birthday, A. trying to reach him urgently via SMS/texting – he KNOWS why, meeting A. at Starbucks, her period is late, S. wants to get money for a pregnancy test and just disappears and goes home; S.’s dad, blowing candles, old stories...TH: no advice, not a comparable situation, S.decides to take poster down.

Chapter 6:
Whizzed into the future – part 1:
S. wakes up in a different bed with A., a baby in the room, needs to be changed, S. has no clue what to do; S. learns „Roof“is his son, he is going to college and is livingwith the Burns’ family, S.’s mum is helping out; meeting Rabbit: looking for answers; S. meeting people who know him and he does not know; „changing nappies – lesson“, S.’s mum is pregnant

Chapter 7:
back to the present, S.’s escape to Hastings, looking for a job, the seaside resort is empty at this time of the year, the only work available: helping an old, disabled and very grumpy old man - Mr Brady

Chapter 8:
Mr.Brady wants help at 4 o'clock in the morning – "could a baby be any worse than this"? S. decides to return home, realizes „I’m STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!“, S. is embarrassed about his behaviour; at home: police, mum in tears and really upset,; S. offers „pretend“ reasons for going away: his parents’ divorce, splitting up with A.; his plan: watch A. secretly and see if he can notice „anything“ (a bump?), while hiding in front of her house he meets Rabbit; S. is not ready to go on with the next part of his life although he realies he has to – „If I sit at home watching TV it won’t happen“.

Chapter 9:
A.is pregnant, has not yet told anyone, cries, desperate; S. feeling like a small child, wants to cry, wants his mum; A. wants to keep the baby, decision to tell parents the next day; S. thinking about marriage; family counselling with „Consuela“, S.’s dad realizes something is wrong – s.th. S. does not tell; S.’s dad learns about A., guesses right (!) p.173; back to school, thinking about going away again, baby names (skater names), parents’ reactions, birth noises, watching birth?
?; was being whizzed into the future his REAL future? – S. cannot stop thinking about it; A. looks older, paler (morning sickness, scared); telling A.’s parents about it, S.:“I’m going to have a baby“, reactions: A.’’s dad:shouting, mum: crying, A.:“And we are kepng it!“- A.’s dad: ridiculous, cannot care for it, mum:“Do you hate us?“ – she thinks S. did it on purpose to keep A., mum does not consider them able to care for the baby: „You couldn’t look after a goldfish!“; A.’s mum talking about S.’s mum:“She’s very pretty.YOUNG and pretty. Don’t YOU PEOPLE ever learn anything?“; all go to S.s house to tell S.’s mum, S.’s mum in dressing gown, Mark is visting...A.’s mum tells her about the baby, reaction: crying, feels hurt by S., suggests abortion, wants to talk to S. in private, A.’s dad: „There isn’t any private anymore, we are all family – A. stepping in, tells her family to leave; S.’s mum volunteers to tell his dad, „Are we stupid or just unlucky?“

Chapter 10:
S.’s dad’s reaction: calling him names, laughing, kind of likes the idea of his grandchild watching him at sports, dreams of playing on a team with his grandson, offers help; S.’s school finds out about A.’s pregnancy; the first ultrasound scan, it is a boy, A. and S. kiss, he realizes „she is not terrible“, they get back together but know that chances are few, no sex; NCT class, everybody older, teacher from S.’s school attending as well,awkward situation; Mark moving in.

Chapter 11:
S. and A.’s parents: S. calling them „Robert“ and „Andrea“; A. tells her parents they are all going to live at their house; skating (is to know what I am doing) - Rubbish: „You are screwed....really“, S. wants to be Rubbish and skate tricks to be all to worry about: „Your life is perfect“, S.’s mum learns about their living arrangements „Do you want to do that?“ – tells hi he can get outof it, has his life in front of him; TH/frustration

Chapter 12:
Whizzed into the future – part two
S. at home, in his own room, new (Hawk) clothes lying around, Mark holding a baby girl (Emily) – S. is a big brother; „It’s Bee“ – A. calling with a cold, S. has to go to the surgery with „Roof“, who has to get a jab, does not know his son’s last name/age, R. does not get the jab...Roof calling S. „Dadda“, tells him about the swing accident, S. spoiling his son: ice cream, helicopter, cinema experience (R. hates it, scared of human veggies)

Chapter 13:
back in the present,bad slam because Rabbit is sleeping in the skating bowl, S.’s mum tells him to stop skating – too dangerous; Sam’s mum pregnant, Mak moving in, 4 months inbetween the babies; thoughts about „future“ in general;GCSE results: S. Ok, A.terrible, A.’s parents think this is unfair.

Chapter 14:
A. in labour, S. concerned about himself (sweating, drinks..), A.at home, naked in bath (unfamiliar sight); A. seems like 30, S. feels like 7; timing contractions (S. should be prepared, they have visited another, more suitable pregnancy class), A. swearing, bad language, strange noises (donkey); both scared; to hospital with A.’s mum, music trouble, A.’s mum doing a very good job, her music is perfect; slow labour; it is „OK“ now for A.’s mum – she will not be a really „old“ granny; A. calling them/the nurse names, S. has to be stopped to walk out, baby gets stuck, cut, baby looks terrible, slimey, blood, shit, squashed; A.: „What’s this music“ – Rufus Wainwright, so that will be the baby’s name (Rufus); S. crying because he realizes only now that they have had a baby; S.’s mum arriving, snatching Rufus „It’s you!“, grandma-fight over last name: Jones or Burns, A.’s mum desperate: „the best possible start in life“ (class thinking – but „no offence!“);A.: Rufus JONES – tears, rows

Chapter 15:
S. moving in with A.’s family, strange to see her feed R., S.'s mum: he is STAYING with you , A.: he is LIVING with us; arguing about the TH poster.

Chapter 16:
Re-living the first „whizz“, now: A. does not look terrible, just tired, S. knows baby poo smells nice, admits R. needs changing, knows how to do it; S. asking himself questions (how did he do as a dad, how did A. and him get on...); at school: the fight with Jason Gerson „thanks for looking after my kid“ – S. thinks he might be right and R. might not be his son, confronts A., she is desperate, the numbers do not fit anyway...“messing each other up“, sayin sorry

Chapter 17:
S.’s dad wants to meet him and R. (advice: bring the baby and you will be able to get alcohol...there is nothing better than a baby to get girls), S.’s dad is trying to talk S. out of his relationship with A., comparing their situations as young fathers, trying to talk to TH – does not work, A. going nuts because R. rodein the car without a car seat, getting into a fight...
S. moving out, back home (both pretending it is not because of the rows but because of a bad cold, of course...)

Chapter 18:
S. comparing his situation with that of other teen parents on the Internet – feels good, learns about teen pregnancy rates and facts, is afraid he might lose touch with R. over the years (as 80% of teen fathers do), talks to A. about it, fight about seeing other girls, Andrea helps S. and supports him, watching R. sleeping

Chapter 19:
S. 18 now, R. almost 2, „this is the middle of a story“, S. answering some questions which the reader may have at that point, about his baby sister, about R.’s jab, TH, College, Alicia and him (having sex again, getting caught by Andrea who is really, really upset)

Chapter 20:
Whizzed into the future – part three
S. is on the bus with a pretty girl,they meet A. and her new boyfriend Carl at a restaurant, S. learns that his girlfriend is called Alex, S.’s mum is babysitting R., S. learns that he often looks after both kids and manages to put them to bed, A. and S. are both at college, part time and share looking after R.; S. quit skating, A. sleeps over at his house sometimes, S. has not been out in the evenings for a long time – life is stressful – but S. has got the feeling that he can do it

Topics & Issues in the Novel

  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Divorce & patchwork families
  • Skating
  • Social class & prejudices
  • Love & friendship
  • Coming of age

Voices in the Press

Teaching (time needed: > two months ~ 20 - 25 lessons)

Possible Starters:
  • Blank slate (bring book to class, show it around and let people predict about the content - what kind of accident might have happened? etc. )
  • Read aloud a passage or the beginning of the book and let students continue it
  • Introduction via the topic teenage pregnancy (articles, statistics, internet research, film, etc.)
  • Reading one or more reviews of the book

Second Step:
  • Character Map
  • Diagram of the relationships of different characters with each other
  • Characterization of main characters

Analysis of the Setting
  • Where do Sam and Alicia live? What does it say about their identities?

Possibilities throughout the Book
  • Reading log
  • Summaries of chapters
  • Finding headings for chapters
  • Follow a character

Creative Tasks
  • Draw pictures or diagrams to each chapter
  • Diary Entries
  • Letters
  • Dialogs (written or spoken)
  • Poster for a movie
  • Story board for a movie


One possible lesson plan (characterization):
10 min
Have adjectives ready (good introduction for new vocabulary)
Show vocabulary on paper to be put on the board or cut out transparency pieces you can move.
Ask students for unknown words and let them explain them to each other.
Now, let the students match the adjectives and the characters.
In the next step students should, in pairs, think about the reason for why they put particular words to a particular character. They should use the book and find possible sections which support their claims.
Collect answers, possibly on the transparency.
10 min
Have a different transparency (or use the board) in order to group the different adjective according to how the characteristic was inferred:
Information on what a character...
...is called.
5 min
Put people into groups and let them choose a character in order to develop a social networking site for her or him. (i.e. I am, so and so, do this and that like...)

Homework: Fill out worksheet for the group work to be done next time in the computer room.

Follow up lesson: Role playing
Students choose scenes from the book that portrait their characters along the line of their characterizations.