Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood is Koren Zailckas’ memoir of her life with alcohol. In the prologue Zailckas writes that she had read some articles about why teenaged girls start drinking and drink to excess and she found that in her life and in the lives of the girls she knew the articles did not approach the reality of why teenaged girls really drink. It wasn’t out of rebellion as was suggested, but rather out of a feeling of alienation and issues with self esteem. These were the girls she knew and met who drank to excess at a young age. Smashed begins just before Koren’s first drink at age 14 and follows her through high school, college and true adulthood and ends with her decision to stop drinking in her mid twenties. Along the way she gives a very experiential account of herself and alcohol which presents the idea that her story is a fairly accurate representation of other girls and alcohol. We follow Koren as she has her first drink, her first time drunk, her first blackout, the college parties, the trips to the hospital and waking up in strange places, the disappointments in herself and her family and the discovery she has that all of her friendships are based around alcohol and drinking and that she doesn’t know how to act around people if she isn’t drunk.
This is a scary book for parents because it shows a side of their daughters which they might not want to see and certainly would not want to admit. Koren’s parents were not blind, but also seemed to truly not accept the level of abuse that Koren was putting herself through. That’s the perception I have from Smashed. But it is eye opening because it gives me something to think about in the hopeful event that I someday have a daughter. It is something to be aware of and in that regard Smashed is an important book because of the impact in may have on other younger girls as well as on parents and parents to be. That Koren Zailckas is able to present such a readable account of her being drunk for more than a decade and make it informative about the cycle of her experience and the consequences, the author is to be commended. I hesitate to say that this was an enjoyable book to read because it is about such a negative and harmful subject, but Koren Zailckas is able to tell her story well and pass along a message at the same time.