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Publisher's Summary

From earliest experimentation to habitual excess to full-blown abuse, 24-year-old Koren Zailckas leads us through her experience of a terrifying trend among young girls, exploring how binge drinking becomes routine, how it becomes "the usual". With the stylistic freshness of a poet and the dramatic gifts of a novelist, Zailckas describes her first sip at 14, alcohol poisoning at 16, a blacked-out sexual experience at 19, total disorientation after waking up in an unfamiliar New York City apartment at 22, when she realized she had to stop, and all the depression, rage, troubled friendships, and sputtering romantic connections in between.

Zailckas' unflinching candor and exquisite analytical eye get to the meaning beneath the seeming banality of girls' getting drunk. She persuades us that her story is the story of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics (yet) but who use booze as a short cut to courage, a stand-in for good judgment, and a bludgeon for shyness, each of them failing to see how their emotional distress, unarticulated hostility, and depression are entangled with their socially condoned binging.

Like the contemporary masterpieces The Liars' Club, Autobiography of a Face, and Jarhead, Smashed is destined to become a classic. A crucial book for any woman who has succumbed to oblivion through booze, or for anyone ready to face the more subtle repercussions of their own chronic over-drinking or of someone they love, Smashed is an eye-opening, wise, and utterly gripping achievement.

©2005 Koren Zailckas (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This raw, eye-opening memoir will deepen readers' understanding of American culture and perhaps their own lives." (Booklist) "Zailckas is unsparingly insightful and acutely aware of what drinking can and does do to girls....Her book is deeply moving, written in poetic, nuanced prose that never obscures the dangerous truths she seeks to reveal." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall


Very slow. I was unable to finish and my wife would not go beyond the ten minute mark! I recommend a pass on this one.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kevin
  • dallas, TX, USA
  • 07-14-05

Self-Centered Navel Gazing

The author has quit drinking because alcohol became a problem for her, but she's not an alcoholic. She spends an inordinate amount of time describing the minute details of her life that fascinate her totally. Koren may not be much, but she is all that she thinks about. It amazes me that this book has sold as well as it has. Just another example from our narcissistic society.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

could be used as a self help book

I was hoping that this book would be filled with scandalous,insane booze stories disguised as an attempt to send a message agaist underage drinking. It definitely was not. it brought to light many current statistics about women and drink without being preachy, and told about one to many drunken nights all to familiar to alcohol abusers. I liked that she didn't glorify her drinking, and i think that this book may help someone who has trouble functioning socially without a drink in their hand. The pace was a bit slow though, the narration was great.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Marcos
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 03-27-06

She drinks to be cool

Koren misses the point. The whole book is about a warning to kids who drink. But she blames everybody for her drinking, especially the bad "boys" who can't treat her right. However, it is obvious by the book that the reason she drinks is to be cool, extrovert and to be a "macho" girl, who can do anything, including trashing a fraternity house at night.
Then she blames people for not treating her like a lady. Come on, she behaves like a bad girl and what does she expect ?
Drunkness in the US is mainly caused by the competitive society that demands that everybody be a winner, an extrovert, a social champion. No place for shy, sensitive, romantic people. That's why American girls are turning into rude, aggressive, macho types. Booze only helps them to accomplish that.
Koren defintely needs to look herself in the mirror and realize her own guilt. She was just as bad as the other girls, the only difference is that they didn't need booze like her. And maybe that she is completely narcisistic.
The narration in the audio book is superb. I guess the voice of the narrator is so sweet that even Jezebel would sound nice. I am glad I didn't buy the text book, otherwise I would have thrown it away.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • pleasanton, CA, United States
  • 02-10-08


Having grownup in an alcoholic household, I was very interested in listening to this book. How did she live or have a liver was my first question, 2nd question was how did she even remember half of what was written, but what was most disturbing was the fact she felt she could still drink. I became very angry at the author and the lack of intervention by her family that should have been done.

This book could have helped so many kids who think its cool getting drunk or it will solve their immediate problems. Maybe it will if they find this book as sad as I did.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Perfect Representation of Alcohol Abuse in College

Would you consider the audio edition of Smashed to be better than the print version?

I like to read along in the paper version as the audio plays on a headset. I enjoy this more than just one or the other.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

This book was a perfect representation of alcohol abuse in college. I am sad to say, but this is the fairly common college experience for most students these days. Koren does an excellent job of nailing the emotions that go along with alcohol use and abuse as a growing and developing woman. This is a must read for high-school students about to attend college or those already there and having or seeing others in trouble with alcohol abuse. It pinpoints the obvious and imminent dangers with-in the drinking sub-culture at college.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ed
  • Wildwood, MO, United States
  • 03-02-10


I am a fan of recovery literature of all types. In my opinion, it takes a great author to develop a meaningful and gripping personal story of recovery because so many of them are alike. This one was different. While the author speaks of her experience (which is not all that different than most stories of substance abuse), her style holds the reader's attention and keeps them wanting more. Well done! I would love to hear a follow-on story of Koren's life after abuse.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Debbi L
  • Kincardine, ON, Canada
  • 08-18-06

A must for Parents

Very informative and frigthening at the same time. Talk to your kids about drinking before it's too late.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not an alcoholic??? Wake up girl~

The author has talent and could write a marketabe book if she could get with the program. "Smashed" is suppoosed to be non- fiction but after six or more years of uncontrolable drinking, problem after problem after problem, hospitalizations, blackouts, and years of failure and wasted life, she denies she is an alcoholic- thereby condeming herself to a longer life as a practicing alcoholic. She will probably have new disasters for a sequel, but I'll take a pass.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • Chester, NY, USA
  • 12-30-06

Think again, girl!

I'm actually horrified by this book. Her point is to "warn" young women away from binge drinking, but the message I got was something to the effect of "if you drink like this, you're probably not alcoholic 'cause I'm not". I doubt this author has done much real research into what makes someone an actual alcoholic, and genetics and consequences as she suggests do not play much part. I personally know scores of people who have no alcoholism in their families or who've never gotten DUI's or been arrested, and they are real alcoholics. Alcoholism is what happens when you drink, the physical craving for more that takes over after that 1st drink, and also a mental obsession that tells you it's okay to drink again after you've sworn off forever. And, as far as I can tell, there are plenty examples of both in this woman's story.
I feel bad for the author, because she will never be "free" from her disease until she admits it and begins the program of recovery that AA suggests, and she will probably end up drinking again because life is so unbearable without alcohol, for the untreated alcoholic. I think that this story carries a very irresponsible message to the real alcoholic, allowing them to think it's "okay" because they're only a binge drinker like our author. This woman has quite the ego, thinking that she can control her drinking enough to write a book to help others, when she knows little to nothing about the "problem" and the "solution" except for her own drunken experiences. If you've read this book and identify with the author, RUN, not walk, to your nearest AA meeting, or call an AA hotline immediately! You, too, are probably an alcoholic, and you need the help of AA if you want to stay sober.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful