Karen Valby
February 09, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Smashed

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Koren Zailckas
publisher
Viking
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A

Koren Zailckas is 24 years old, and her first book is about booze. The setup sounds sensationalistic, a recipe for irritation, but read a few pages and you’ll shed your cynicism. This may be one of the best accounts of addiction, let alone the college experience, or even what it means to be an average teenage girl in America who inexplicably hates herself. Zailckas, her tone frank and measured, describes how she took her first drink at 14, had her stomach pumped at 16, lost her virginity in a blackout to a fraternity goon at 19, and said enough is enough at 22. With all the headlines blaring about date rape and binge drinking, parents ought to pick up this book to get a realistic look into why their daughters might feel best about themselves when their heads snap back from taking shots, liquor dripping down their chins. While Smashed boasts important insight and information, this fine young writer’s greatest gift is her gripping, vivid story-telling.

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