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Smashed: Growing Up A Drunk Girl [Paperback]

Koren Zailckas
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jan 2006

The day Koren turned fourteen she tasted alcohol for the first time. At fifteen she was piecing together forgotten fragments of drink, men and misplaced clothes. At sixteen she was being carried through hospital doors unconscious. And so it began...

Brought up by loving parents in a stable middle-class home, Koren was a sweet and altogether normal child. Yet from her mid-teens until her early twenties, she thought nothing of regularly drinking herself into a state of amnesia. Alcohol became her safeguard and prop, providing her with a self-confidence she couldn't otherwise feel. And whilst drinking to excess was perfectly acceptable, even actively encouraged, amongst her friends, it quickly reached a destructive monotony that bordered on dependency. It took a number of terrifying incidents - from stumbling home alone covered in vomit to waking up naked in bed unsure of whether she had lost her virginity - before Koren could finally say to herself enough was enough and seek help for her problem.

Smashed is the shocking but all-too-recognisable story of a young woman coming of age within a society that finds it easier to turn a blind eye to binge-drinking than address the problem head on. Beautifully written and brutally honest, compelling without preaching, this is a book that demands to be read.

Frequently Bought Together

Smashed: Growing Up A Drunk Girl + What Did I Do Last Night? + Terry: My Daughter's Life-And-Death Struggle with Alcoholism
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; New Ed edition (5 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091905605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091905606
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"Beautifully written, oddly affecting..." (India Knight The Sunday Times)

"One of the most original and brutally honest memoirs I've read in a long while. Koren is a writer's writer - and she wipes the floor with any of her contemporaries. Smashed is definitely my find of the year" (Helen Walsh, author of Brass)

"It is a testament to Zailckas's hard, fast, clever writing that Smashed grips from beginning to end" (The Guardian)

"An original and moving book that perhaps starts to explain why we seem to have a generation of bing-drinking teenage girls" (The Observer)

"Well and fiercely written" (Hilery Mantel The Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

A beautifully written and deeply moving account of an adolescence shaped by alcohol - already a bestseller in hardback

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought pricking 3 Mar 2005
By A Customer
Not often are we provided with stories that touch a rising problem in society. Binge drinking is a problem society can no longer ignore. It is endemic in countries like the UK, Ireland, and USA, and Cameroon, parts of the world like continental Europe, North America, South East Asia, and Latin America.
Smashed is an amazing story of this problem of alcoholism that is prevalent amongst young women. It is quite a scary book that will make many readers cringe when they read about the problems alcohol caused for Zailckas. This book may be a little bit too much for parents because it certainly is frightening and shocking for them to learn that heavy drinking is common amongst the young at such a young age. But as some one who went through that phase, I can relate to the story. It is a problem that should be confronted.
I like the way Zailckas did the narration. Her voice is strong in the writing and her style is unique. Poetic and fast flowing, one gets the story without drowning in compassion for her. After all, it is a past she shrugged off. That is why I think many people will find it interesting reading about this experience of alcoholism or binge drinking from the perspective of a young woman. It has lots of lessons to be learnt. Anybody can become an alcohol addict at an early stage in life. But with courage, determination and support, anybody can bit the addiction, whether as an alcoholic or a binge boozer.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical Memoir 29 April 2005
As memoirs go Smashed won't move you to tears or inspire you to change your life, nor does it claim to. It is actually very factual look at the sociology and psychology of binge drinkers. Koren Zailckas nevers falters in her detail nor in her wit which is what really makes this book. It is beautifully written and easily relatable, and appeals to everyone though particularly if you're a female who has ever had a rough night on the voddies.This book doesn't condemn or encourage binge drinking it simply gives the honest facts from someone who knows
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I've recently read this book and at times I had to re-read a line because it had been so shocking.
Koren Zailckas in my opinion is a talented first time writer and I found her book enjoyable.
It opened my eyes to the world of under-age drinking and how difficult it is to transition from girlhood to womanhood. My only gripe with the book is there were a few too many metaphors but even so they did create vivid pictures in my mind. I think this book appeals to older adolescents and adults alike.
If you want a true, realistic portrayal of alcohol abuse then this is the book to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit like getting drunk.......... 15 Jun 2006
By Lisa
starts of slowly, drawing in you in. Then before you know it you have drank the whole book in one, marathon session. I spent the next day ehausted and sleep deprived. Ii just couldn't put it down.
I think this book is honest, open and accurate. Although im not armerican nor a university student I can totally empathize with all the situations that Korin finds her self in. Im sure at some point most of us have been there. However the differnce is there was a moment when we said I can't do this anymore and we now save our binges for saturday nights in the pub. Korin obviously couldn't find this switch.
I think this book was amazingly well written, shocking and brutally honest, I think it took alot of courage to write and it was a harsh wake up call to all of us who consider ourselves social drinkers.
Unputdownable !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too 9 April 2007
By TeensReadToo TOP 500 REVIEWER
SMASHED is a chilling novel of female alcohol addiction. For Koren Zailckas, it started at age fourteen, and from her first drink of Southern Comfort she was addicted. Koren later joins a college sonority, which just gives her more of a reason to get really drunk -- and more people to do it with!

The writing isn't the most brilliant that I have ever read but the story is definitely good. Most alcohol addiction books are about a male, so this is a great book to read if you want to learn about this subject -- or even if you are just a curious reader.

There is not a lot that you can say about this book without giving the whole thing away! Even though she drinks excessively, Koren never goes to rehab or actually goes to an AA meeting! And unlike James Frey's embellished novel of drug and alcohol addiction, this one is the truth.

Reviewed by: Taylor Rector
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars smashing 27 Jan 2007
i got this book a few days after being told my own liver was damaged through drinking. though reading it was hardgoing at times because it hit home i suppose, I was heartened by the fact I was not alone and yet aghast at how widespread the problem is. the only thing which could possibly have used some work is the ending however as it is a true portrayal the honesty stayed consistent throughout so perhaps it is best to leave it as it is rather than fool us into a happily ever after.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I found this book an excellent read even if I found some of the Ms Zailckas's conclusions misdirected. The book was beautifully written and candid, it started with the euphoria that most people find with their first taste of alcohol and charted the decent into serial binge drinking. The problem is I saw the book as the author's struggle with inner demons rather than a purely alcohol abuse. The abuse seemed to be a symptom of her insecurities despite her undoubted beauty, high intelligence and sensitivity. (Where not Lord Byron and Shelly chronic alcohol abusers?)It is gratifying that she has managed to move out of her downward spiral and found a more meaningful life. However she seems to be blaming alcohol as the problem rather than the chronic introversion. At the end of the book she makes some very valid points about the advertising industries tactics which certainly seem misogynistic however see sees the young males around her as the enemy, as people who have none of the insecureties that she herself has when the reality is they have as equally flawed personas as she has which causes the actions that she so fervently admonishes. Despite all this I heartily recommend this book even if only to provoke discussion like this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST BOOK - Everyone should read this
Love this book, its in my top 5 all time favouritres. I think everyone should read this as it is very well written
Published on 14 Sep 2010 by Becks
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
I bought this book to give to a young woman I know (not me - I'm well past young)in the hope it would open her eyes to her 'binge' drinking and the consequences thereof. Read more
Published on 29 July 2010 by Pedro the Llama
1.0 out of 5 stars Naive and immature story
I found this to be a naive and immature account, with stories of how she used to have four light beers, throw up and have black outs. Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2009 by L. E. Roach
1.0 out of 5 stars Basking in her own self pity from A. Customer
Well, I was given this book as a gift and managed to read about half of the book before I gave up with it. Read more
Published on 18 May 2008 by butterfly girl
2.0 out of 5 stars Well written but disturbing for the wrong reasons
Koren Zailckas' memoir is definitely an interesting read. It's very well-written, and I stopped more than once to admire a few descriptive sentences or paragraphs. Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2008 by Kendra
2.0 out of 5 stars Smashed: Growing Up a Spoilt Brat
The biographical path entitled "personal journey from the depths of drug/ alcohol/food abuse" is increasingly well trodden. Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2007 by Rachel A
5.0 out of 5 stars Sick Sick Sick
This is a book that will leave you with memories of something you wern't even there to experience. I read this book over a year ago and I can still recall tales that were told... Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2007 by Ms. N. F. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars a chilling insight
I picked up this book because i was intrigued by the title but was a little concerned that it might be abit over the top and glamourised. Read more
Published on 22 April 2007 by L. A. Labunsky
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping from page 1
Koren writes about her teenage years from the perspective of her drinking. It is all the stuff you read about when the papers are full of underage drinking disasters, but from the... Read more
Published on 23 Mar 2007 by StartupChick
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing in its honesty and normality
Smashed is the story of how as a young woman the author began to increasingly depend on alcohol in all social circumstances. Read more
Published on 12 Mar 2007 by E. Turner
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