Picks and Pans Review: Smashed Story of a Drunken Girlhood

updated 02/07/2005 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/07/2005 01:00AM

By Koren Zailckas
MEMOIR

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Think your teen years were rough? In her first book, Zailckas, 24, chronicles a harrowing nine years of alcohol abuse, from her first drink in eighth grade to the day years later when she awakens from a blackout clueless about where she is but thankful that she isn't naked. Her journey is a dismal one: At 16, she passes out in a puddle of vomit at a party and has to get her stomach pumped; after a night of drinking during college at Syracuse, she is sexually assaulted by a friend.

The story's power lies not in Zailckas's crises but in her candor. Focusing less on the shock value of her experience than on how sadly common it is among her peers, she relays every detail of her desperation with subtle wit and refreshing insight. With so many troubled teens becoming authors lately, bookstores are flooded with boozy bios by former girls gone wild. This one rises to the top.

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