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Koren Zailckas

Substance Abuse Advocate


Koren Zailckas is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, a riveting account of her experiences with alcohol abuse as a teenager and college student, and its follow-up, Furry. Barnes and Noble selected Smashed for its 2005 Discover Great New Writers program and Entertainment Weekly named it “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.” Zailckas’ latest book, Mother, Mother: A Novel, is her debut work of fiction about a family torn apart by a deeply flawed mother.

From earliest experimentation to habitual excess to full-blown abuse, 24-year-old 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, she describes her first sip at 14, alcohol poisoning at 16, a blacked-out sexual experience at 19, and total disorientation after waking up in an unfamiliar New York City apartment at age 22, when she realized she had to stop, and all the depression, rage, troubled friendships, and sputtering romantic connections in between. Her unflinching candor and exquisite analytical eye get to the meaning beneath the seeming banality of girls getting drunk. She convinces us that her story is the story of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics – yet – but who use booze as a shortcut 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 bingeing.

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 overdrinking or of someone they love, Smashed is an eye-opening, wise, and utterly gripping tour de force.


Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood

Addressing the problem of underage drinking, Koren Zailckas brings to light scientific evidence on how alcohol affects the still-developing teenage brain. She informs audiences of how the younger the age one starts drinking alcohol, the more likely that person is to become addicted. Most compelling, however, is her personal story, the description of her downward spiral, and the experiences that she wishes she had never had. Zailckas shares powerful passages from her book, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, followed by a frank question and answer session. This unforgettable presentation is sure to leave a lasting impression – especially on young audiences.

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