Msmeemee's Reviews > Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood

Smashed by Koren Zailckas
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's review
Nov 02, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: psychology, biographies
Recommended for: anyone who's spoken the word "alcohol"
Read in November, 2007

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 good resource for clinicians who work with individuals that abuse alcohol or for clinicians who aren't familiar with these issues and need a first-hand account of what alcohol abuse is like. five stars.

EDIT: after reading some of the other readers' comments, i have a couple things i'd like to address. a lot of people say that the storyline isn't interesting. i guess with a memoir, it's more about the author's willingness to make herself vulnerable to a wider audience than it is about an interesting story. even though her experiences with alcohol are common, her motivations for drinking are of key importance because they are actually symptoms of a society that places men and women in very rigid boxes. if you're looking for pure entertainment, look elsewhere.

other readers thought she was a whiny, spoiled brat from a good background. this doesn't make someone exempt from having their own internalized demons. other readers commented on her immaturity as a writer and as someone recovering from alcohol abuse. there was no resolution and some were not satisfied with her level of insight about her own abuse. did anyone stop to think that perhaps writing this memoir is part of her recovery process? and as far a resolution, there is no concrete, static resolution to substance abuse. recovery is an ongoing process. and some people don't ever recover fully. if your relationship to a substance is that binding, it can be difficult to completely let go of the abuser mindset.

i think we as an audience can learn a lot about alcohol abuse by our very reactions. a lot of people had no sympathy for the author. in my eyes, i think this exhibits society's relative indifference and lack of compassion for those who are struggling with personal issues and how alcohol and other substances can be a life jacket if only in the short-run. there was one comment about how the author's abuse was everyone's fault but her own. personally, i did not get that, but if that was the general feeling about her, it's an honest portrayal of people who abuse substances. i was especially appalled by one reader's comment about date rape and how the author should've known she would be raped if she hung out in frat houses all the time. in a way, this comment is enraging yet enlightening at the same time. and i think this is where the book is brilliant; it draws out all the biases, all the stereotypes, the myths, the victim-blaming attitudes, and our overall lack of understanding regarding substance abuse that still pervade our society. and i think it's fantastic that the author wrote the book shortly after trying to abstain; her feelings and insecurities are still fresh and we can experience that right along with her. it gives us a perspective of someone who is struggling to find herself without her alcoholic crutch.
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Yazmin Love your comments and insights.

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