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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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Smack Paperback – June 8, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 242 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like so many teenagers, Tar and Gemma are fed up with their parents. Tar's family is alcoholic and abusive, and Gemma feels her home life is cramped by too many restrictions. The young, British couple runs away to Bristol in search of freedom, and finds it in the form of a "squat." This vacant building is also occupied by two slightly older teens who share everything with Tar and Gemma (including their heroin habits). For a while, everything is parties and adventures, but slowly Tar and Gemma find themselves growing more and more dependent on the drug--whose strict mandates are even less forgiving than those of the parents they fled. As Gemma says, "You take more and more, and more often. Then you get sick of it and give up for a few days. And that's the really nasty thing because then, when you're clean, that's when it works so well."

With Smack, winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize for Fiction, Melvin Burgess brilliantly sketches a gradual descent into drug addiction. There is no preaching here, just the artful revelation of cold, hard facts. Burgess's use of the first-person voice--for not only the main characters but those in the background as well--brings you into the mind of every character in this homeless, hooked culture, offering a (sometimes terrible) glimpse of the motivations and transitions of each person. (Tar's personality changes dramatically over the course of the book, from sweet-natured, lonely boy to hard-edged, hit-seeking addict.) More subtle and less graphic than Beauty Queen, Linda Glovach's tale of a girl's downward spiral into heroin addiction, Smack will linger in the your mind long after its haunting conclusion has been reached. (Ages 13 and older) --Brangien Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In a starred review of this "searing" account of teens who become addicted to heroin, PW wrote that the "unflinching depiction of the seductive pleasures as well as insidious horrors of heroin... will leave an indelible impression on all who read it." Ages 12-up. (May)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312608624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312608620
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the story Tar and Gemma, two teenagers, who run away from their families in search of freedom and end up in a prison of their own creation -- drug addiction. This is a truly compelling book and I felt myself swept along in total sympathy with the main characters. At first it's all fun and games until they realize that you can't run away from certain basic human needs: the need for a home (which becomes a squat), the need for family (which becomes a group of squatters, who sadly are also junkies). It's only a matter of time before the lure of drugs (as a bonding ritual) takes over -- and then we watch these characters spiral downward. I read this book right after another Amazon purchase -- The Losers' Club by Richard Perez -- and while that novel isn't about drug addiction, but a 'failed,' lonely writer addicted to the personal ads, I was reminded of the need we all have to belong, to feel ALIVE. The story of Smack reminds us that we can never escape from ourselves, from certain innate human needs. And when we try to break away from the more traditional ways of life, those needs, that loneliness to belong is still there. I truly love this book and would recommend it to anyone. It's beautifully written and compelling. And sadly true.
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Format: Paperback
This is the story Tar and Gemma, two teenagers, who run away from their families in search of freedom and end up in a prison of their own creation -- drug addiction.
This is a truly compelling book and I felt myself swept along in total sympathy with the main characters. At first it's all fun and games until they realize that you can't run away from certain basic human needs: the need for a home (which becomes a squat), the need for family (which becomes a group of squatters, who sadly are also junkies). It's only a matter of time before the lure of drugs (as a bonding ritual) takes over -- and then we watch these characters spiral downward.
I read this book right after another Amazon purchase -- The Losers' Club by Richard Perez -- and while that novel isn't about drug addiction, but a "failed," lonely writer addicted to the personal ads, I was reminded of the need we all have to belong, to feel ALIVE. The story of Smack reminds us that we can never escape from ourselves, from certain innate human needs. And when we try to break away from the more traditional ways of life, those needs, that loneliness to belong is still there. I truly love this book and would recommend it to anyone. It's beautifully written and compelling. And sadly true.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book this past year in my class, "Materials for Young Adults." I was shocked, not at the lurid subject matter and grittiness, but at how well written it was and how much I really enjoyed it. People may have objections to the sex and to the drug use, (and the girl with the see through dress), but at its heart, this book in NO way glamorizes drug use. Must we put a moral thermometer on everything? This is just a book about two young kids who run away from home and get caught up in the English world of squatters and heroin. I like how this book shows that not all squatters are a bunch of junkies. In fact, many of the squatters try and stop our "heroes" from getting involved with the wrong crowd. The squatters form a type of family, and drugs tear them apart in the end.
There has been a lot of controversy about this book, and whether or not it has a place in the classroom. (Some of this has been around whether a child should just READ this book on their own time.) I say the more who read it, the better. This book is much more than a cautionary tale; it's a darn good read in and of itself. And yes, it is perfectly well suited for adults as well.
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Format: Paperback
When I picked this up, I was expecting some kids to think drugs were cool, then run with a fast sex, drugs, and rock n' roll crowd, have a huge tragedy strike, and then get the propaganda message that DRUGS ARE BAD (think "Go Ask Alice"). Boy, was I in for a surprise. This book is an easy read, but a much more complex tale than a simple parable about how drugs are bad.

The two main characters, Tar and Gemma, leave home for things that every teenager in the world has felt in some way. Tar is abused, and leaves the hell of homelife for peace on the streets. Gemma represents every teenager who is smarter than her parents and resents their control over her life. She leaves for less justifiable reasons than Tar, but her emotions are ones anyone can identify with.

There are a lot of people on the streets and in the squats--anarchists, straight-edge vegans, punks, pot smokers, and heroin users. Tar and Gemma find friends and their own form of a family, and it is very easy to see how they slipped into the world of drugs, namely heroin.

This book has shocking events in it, but the characters are so numb to it all that they describe it in a subtle and offhand manner. Girls who sell the bodies for drug money in no way consider themselves prostitutes, because they have standards and they do it "on their terms," and on and on. The reader gets sucked up in this life and I found myself wanting to smack these characters and say, NO, what you are doing is not justifiable.

This book has a beautiful ending that took me by surprise. No, the world is not covered in roses in the end, but neither has everyone succumbed to hell.

I'd like to make a comment about the appropriate age for this book. My sister is a voracious reader.
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