In Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (Penguin), Koren Zailckas recounts her history of alcohol abuse and the years she lost. She took her first drink at age fourteen and she soon craved liquor and needed it for any kind of social interaction. At university she joined a sorority and became a cheerleader, but her only friends were drinking buddies, and neither alcohol poisoning nor date rape persuaded her to ease off the booze. This is a personal story but Zailckas lodges it in the larger context of the American middle class, teenage girls and university student culture, and points out all the ways in which her experiences are the norm. She does not blame her behaviour on alcoholism; in fact, she is precise in her use of medical and psychological terminology. She examines the reasons why drinking is not seen as a serious vice and explodes the myth of the happy-go-lucky party girl. For instance, she admits to being shy and awkward. But even this gritty account can’t explain what pushed a young, shy woman into extreme substance abuse.