All Parts Of A Peer-Reviewed Journal Have Been Peer-Reviewed Book Review – "Smashed: Growing Up a Drunk Girl"

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Book Review – "Smashed: Growing Up a Drunk Girl"

Book Review – “Shattered: A Drunken Girl Grows Up” by Koren Zaylkas. Published by Ebury Press, UK 2006.

“Don’t let the title bother you” my daughter told me when she handed me this book. ‘It’s really good, you’ll enjoy it’. Normally, I wouldn’t pick up this type of book, but as soon as I started turning the pages, I soon realized what he meant. This is a book that demands reading. Zaylkas expressed himself beautifully, often through poetic prose, and convincingly. As each chapter progressed into the next, I had a real sense of being caught up in his destructive lifestyle. I felt like I was one of his drinking buddies. A less able writer would have fallen victim to the repetitive monotony of recounting an event of heavy drinking, but Zaylkas manages to chronicle his memoir in an interesting and highly thought-provoking way.

Very little was mentioned about Zaylkas’s family, except that his parents were very fond of him, as was his sister. He was clearly from a middle-class American family that outwardly reflected an idyllic childhood and lifestyle. Out of respect for his family, he did not reveal many details about them, instead the book focused on his drinking lifestyle during college and university. What becomes apparent is a subculture of young women who enjoy drinking and, although they shun non-alcoholic drugs, somehow this ‘elixir of life’ is accepted as a normal part of society. Alcohol is seen as an important part of the “rite of passage”. This book raises alarming questions about binge drinking, which the author deliberately does with a brutally honest account of events. The reader wonders, “If he came from such a stable and loving family, why did he feel the all-consuming need to drink?”

His drinking career began at the age of 14. “Southern Comfort” was his drink of choice when he sneaked a drink to his friend Natalie’s house. By the age of 15, he was drinking much more as he attended party events with friends, lost his clothes while drunk, and hung out. He was taken to the hospital to have his stomach pumped when he was 16 when he suffered alcohol poisoning. Heavy drinking at night was an inevitable consequence. Not only did she fight for her life in the emergency room, but after being discharged, she faced the wrath of her distraught parents. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop him from forcing himself to drink again.

After entering Syracuse University, he joined the sorority, Zeta Alpha Sigma, in his sophomore year. Initiation rituals were an integral part of the group. Zaylkas noted that every campus in the U.S. was inundated with alcohol. He deliberately sought out other drinking companions, and so the destructive spiral of uncontrolled drinking reached new heights. In detailing these drinking sessions, she points to incidents of returning home alone with vomit-stained clothes, later waking up naked in bed and wondering if she had lost her virginity and to whom. Blackouts became a regular occurrence as he kept forgetting to drink. The disconnection haunted him for several years, accompanied by a fierce emptiness, which, unfortunately, did little to stop him from his chosen path. At some point, Zaylkas realized that the monotonous drinking, along with the blackouts, date rapes, and suicidal thoughts, had to stop. She left the sorority and became a recluse. He finally quit drinking at the age of 22.

Zailckas felt the need to drink because he lacked confidence, was acutely self-conscious and felt he didn’t fit in. Alcohol gave him a false sense of well-being, and being under its influence he felt he could cope. He managed to get a job as a journalist in New York; However, he rejected the notion of getting outside help to fight his addiction. Zaylkas refused to attend Alcoholics Anonymous because he did not believe he was an alcoholic. The reader may reach a different conclusion. In any case, his attempt to “go it alone” is highly commendable. Zaylkas still can’t promise to stay sober, but he’s trying.

This book captured the adolescence of an American girl. The author’s idea of ​​the so-called About the “normal” lifestyle of excessive drinking. For many years, alcohol defined him and his lifestyle. Zaylkas could not handle social situations without getting drunk. He thought alcohol was the panacea for all his troubles and self-doubt. The alarming statistics are cited in a book from the Harvard School of Public Health Studies. “Most girls have their first drink at age 12, and get drunk at age 14; teenage girls drink as much as their peers, but their bodies process it poorly. They are more likely to die from alcohol poisoning). Studies also suggest that date rape and alcohol sequentially is going.”

Binge drinking is a worldwide phenomenon that increasingly affects many societies. For many teenagers, it has become a way of life. For this reason alone, the story of Zaylkas should feature prominently in every school curriculum around the world. Koren Zaylkas’ insightful and engaging prose will resonate with teenage readers and prompt thought-provoking questions and introspection. Too many young women succumb to peer pressure, they feel the need to meet high social standards and demand acceptance from friends. All too often, alcohol is turned to and abused in hopes of finding the perfect panacea for their perceived insecurity. Our societies’ tacit acceptance of alcohol as a ‘drug of choice’, aided and abetted by the clever marketing of alcohol suppliers targeting new and upcoming generations of new consumers, must be checked. Society can no longer turn a blind eye to this ever-growing problem that is destroying our children. Therefore, I highly recommend this book and congratulate Zaylkka for his honesty, integrity and insight. It’s a story that resonates with many young people at a crossroads in their lives, as well as their desperate parents. We ignore Zaylkas’s message at our peril!

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