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Smashed: Growing Up a Drunk Girl

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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  17,787 ratings  ·  1,057 reviews
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-te
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Published January 5th 2006 by Ebury Press (first published January 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Caitlin
I hate this girl. I think she was melodramatic and obnoxious and I don't know what her problem was. I found all of her "statistical" references to be preachy and I found a lot of inconsistencies that bothered me. Her college experience didn't seem all that different from a lot of people I know, so I don't know why she got to get a book deal out of it. I also don't know how she suddenly found so much clarity after quitting drinking for like a month. I think she is reaching big time in a lot of he ...more
Wednesday
Dec 22, 2007 Wednesday rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one without a strong prescription to anti-depressants
This book is 333 out of 340 pages of self-loathing and misery with an sad attempt at a happy ending/after school special-style lesson found in the last 7 pages.

In between choking fits of laughter over the overly-dramatic stare coming from the author's picture on the back, I became annoyed---more than usual.

Were it not for the author's poetic descriptions, I never would have bothered to finish this pointless story.
It's a memoir from a white-bred adolescent female binge drinking through highschoo
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Msmeemee
Nov 02, 2007 Msmeemee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's spoken the word "alcohol"
when it comes to memoirs, i can't really critique the content only because it's about someone's real-life experiences. but i can critique the delivery. plain and simple, i love koren's writing style. it's easy to read yet vivid and insightful. i think so many girls and young women can relate to her experiences, it's a validation of being female in this society and the relationship females develop with alcohol as a way to cope with the pressure. plus, as someone in the psychology field, it's a go ...more
Anittah
Jun 27, 2008 Anittah rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are currently drunk
(From my Amazon review, written 11/2006)

Smashed is a book that I hope Zailckas will consider with embarrassment as she grows up, assuming she ever does. Zailckas' writing takes herself far too seriously and attempts to inject poetic turns of phrase far too often. Bottling her parents' alcohol buzz like a firefly? Ugh. Trying to claim that all women remember their first drink? Gross.

Her "Woe is me, cautionary tale, this is all so serious, look at how I can weave artsy-sounding phrases into my pas
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Liz
Mar 18, 2008 Liz rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one. absolutely no one.
I found this book to be droll, trite, and anticlimactic; more akin to something for a church confessional and less to anything that should sprung on the general public.
Zailckas often brushes against compelling issues of this "drunken girldom": the odd and alienating social structure erected and maintained by many (possibly the majority) of females in the United States, if not extending beyond. The author does precious more than flatly recount the multitude of times she found herself drunk out o
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Angela
Jul 29, 2007 Angela rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who works with teens
I completely disagree with the author and the reviewers of this memoir. This book made me ANGRY.

To begin, she has SERIOUS issues that she avoids. I was left with far more questions by the end of the book than when I began. And--where the hell were her parents? They suck repeatedly throughout this memoir. Give me a break. Are they that clueless, or are we not getting the entire story? And speaking of not the whole story--how did she manage to graduate in four years and be able to land and keep a
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Tara
Awful. Horrendous. Self-pitying and self-righteous and self-absorbed. Pointless. Poorly written. Pathetic. If I could give it less stars, I would.

In the end, it's everyone's fault the author had a drinking problem...everyone except the author herself.
Kelly
From scanning all the negative reviews below, it would appear that I am in the minority with my opinions of this book. I personally found it to be outstandingly well-written, insightful, and unflinchingly real and honest. Koren holds nothing back as she recounts her decade-long love affair with alcohol. Much like a bad relationship, she clung to drinking in high school and college as if it were her oxygen; though it was clearly damaging to her physically, mentally, and emotionally, she returned ...more
Leslie
Having been a college student at a work-hard, party hard university around the same time as the author, I was highly impressed by how well she understands and writes about drinking culture on campuses (particularly the female experience). I think she nails it. I appreciate her debunking many myths about alcohol use among adolescent girls and women. Parents can do everything right (not that there is one right way to address alcohol with your kids, but that's an aside), the girl or woman can have ...more
Jaime
The entire time I was reading this, I questioned the reliability of the author, a severe alcohol abuser who began drinking at a young age. There were gaping holes in the narrative which she filled with a bunch of unnecessary rhetoric about alcoholism/binge drinking in general. Even worse was the ending during which Zailckas droned on and on about how the government, advertisers, and men in general piss her off. On a positive note, the book is well written, but then that just makes me wonder how ...more
Korinna
During my time reading this book, my opinions would often change. This is a story about a girl, middle class, white, from a "normal", decent upbringing who starts to drink heavily at 15 and continues for about ten years. Sometimes while reading this, I found myself thinking "why am i reading this? it isn't that interesting. I mean, this is no different from the experiences of many young girls in mainstream culture, and in many ways similar to those of my own." but that is exactly why this is an ...more
kathi
Feb 08, 2009 kathi added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
This is a horrible book full of wrong information about alcoholism...she justifies, rationalizes, makes excuses to make her drinking appear "normal"...she describes so many situations that "normal" drinkers do not do...she has blackouts, hangovers, sneaky behavior, tolerance, loss of control, denial...all symptoms used to diagnosis alcoholism...she denied having any symptoms at all and rationalized this by comparing herself to other "alcoholics" by saying she had never done those things so she c ...more
Kristen
Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood is a work of nonfiction by Koren Zailckas, chronicling her love affair with alcohol. The book’s organizational structure is telling itself, split into four sections: “Initiation,” “The Usual,” “Excess,” and “Abuse.” It begins with Koren’s first taste, swigging sips of Southern Comfort on the sly, peer-pressured into it by her friend Natalie at age 14. Koren then moves through high school and college and has what almost anyone would consider a normal relations ...more
Heather
I love nothing more than memoirs about miserable childhoods, but this girl is just a whiny, entitled, self-centered biyotch. Her problems and drama were of her own making. Avoid at all costs.
Kristen
God, this book was awful. I really don't care if she feels guilty about drunken partying that she did ten years ago. One of the few books I could not even finish.
kira
Ha! The writing is dreadful and juvenile; it's actually funny. It reads like the author just took her final paper for Psych 101 and beefed it up with some personal anecdotes. However -- it does make a few astute observations about college women and drinking. She tackles a provocative topic with candor and honesty, despite the cringe-inducing writing.
Melissa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly
I didn't love this book. The author is self-centered and what happens to her is obvious and not interesting. That being said, it was a fast read.
Erin
Apr 23, 2013 Erin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young women entering college
I first read this book as a sophomore in college, when I was grappling with some alcohol issues spurred on by having an older group of friends, attending a university with liberal drinking rules and "thoughtful" punishments for underage drinking, and the thrill of living on my own in a tolerant, safe environment where I could experiment at will. My mom gave me this book to help me process my own actions and determine what drinking meant for me, in my life.

I read it a second time, recently, as I
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Celeste
Aug 04, 2007 Celeste rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
Shelves: 2007
I began this book really wanting to like it. I assumed that it was a cautionary tale against underage drinking, and that appealed to me. Being the child of an alcoholic, I've seen a lot and feel pretty strongly about alcoholism and alcohol abuse. I figured I'd like it as a given.

But I didn't. Her images are strong and powerful. There were passages that I could smell the stale cigarettes and feel the burn of hard liquor in my throat, but during the college period of her life it gets hazy and some
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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Taylor Rector for TeensReadToo.com

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 gre
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TheSaint
Alcohol abuse as a feminist issue? Author Koren Zailckas begins her harrowing memoir of nine years of binge drinking with a dedication to her mother, for first making her "mindful of women's issues." Truly, Zailckas makes a good case that binge drinking (and its consequences whether drunk or sober) is societally more objectionable for women. Indeed, the reader will walk away from Smashed thinking all eighth-grade, white, suburban females are destined to a desperate life of blackouts and hangover ...more
Danielle
Not very well written. Gets very boring about half way through, which maybe is the point of it. I will never know because I am not going to finish it. The author is not very likable or doesn't present her story in any way that makes you feel anything for her. She makes a lot of excuses for the way she acted during High School and college that I can't buy into. This from someone who has been known to enjoy a few drinks every now and then.

The bottom line - the quality of the writing is not good e
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Carol
This book was pretty good, as far as memoirs go. Koren Zailckas writes about her experiences with alcohol abuse as an adolescent/young adult and correlates these experiences with well-documented and researched facts and figures. I believe she has become very insightful over the course of her writing and introspection.
Frank
Is it wrong that I found this hilarious instead of eye-opening? TO SHOTS!
Candice
Relentlessly honest memoir of a her own drinking history starting at age 14. At first I noticed how angry she was, and how she tended to see herself as victimized, but in the end she does state that she is indeed angry and does lay a lot of blame on the alcohol industry, as well as our complacent and alcoholic culture which is justified. She points out that most young women drink, as I personally think most people drink, as a dangerous method of self-medication, but that women are far more physi ...more
Kirsti
3.5 stars. This has gotten a lot of negative reviews, but I found it really interesting and earnest and compelling. Zailckas describes her romance with alcohol from age 14 until her early 20s. She tries to include facts and statistics on alcohol abuse in general, so the book sometimes seems like it's 80% memoir and 20% research paper. I figured I should let that slide since it's the author's first book.

What Zailckas leaves out is as interesting as what she includes. She dedicates the book to her
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Sarah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ley
As a drug treatment counselor I would not recommend this book to my clients. The author refuses and/or is in complete denial about what really took place in her life. She refuses to be truthful about herself and instead refers to herself and her terrible so-called friends as "alcohol abusers." She is an alcoholic in every way, shape and form. She also claims that she was one of the lucky ones and nothing really bad happened to her while intoxicated. However, she states that sex or 'fooling aroun ...more
Amy M
I liked this book, but with reservation. This is an "easy read", in spite of the serious topic. Like the author, I too, went to Syracuse University, and I, too, was in Kappa Alpha Theta, though at least ten years earlier than the author. I agree whole-heartedly that drinking among college-aged women is a major issue and does spawn a spiral of, if not self-loathing, certainly low self-esteem. Much of the behavior that college-aged women who drink too much engage in is risky and detrimental to the ...more
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“I once heard someone say that the concept of moderation seems a little extreme, and tonight...I agree.” 43 likes
“But in college, we can wear our alcohol abuse as proudly as our university sweatshirts; the two concepts are virtually synonymous.” 37 likes
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