by Sukey HowardSeptember, 2005
A cautionary memoir
Koren Zailckas took her first drink at 14, had alcohol poisoning at 16, spent her undergraduate years binge-drinking or hung over, then sobered up for good at 23. Smashed, read here by Ellen Archer, is her moving, unflinching memoir of that drunken girlhood. Written in spare, often poetic prose, it spares none of the devastating details of how girls use alcohol to remedy adolescent angst and anxiety. In audio form, Zailckas' tale has a mesmerizing quality that keeps you listening as her life spirals in and out of control in an excess of abuse. What's most disturbing, and what Zailckas makes explicit, is that this kind of destructive behavior is not unusual, nor is the cloak of denial that helps perpetuate it. Anyone with a teenage daughter anyone concerned with our future should pay close attention to this chronicle and learn from its candor and courage.