Smackby Melvin Burgess
After running away from their troubled homes, two English teenagers move in with a group of squatters in the port city of Bristol and try to find ways to support their growing addiction to heroin. See more details below
After running away from their troubled homes, two English teenagers move in with a group of squatters in the port city of Bristol and try to find ways to support their growing addiction to heroin.
“Searing . . . unflinching . . . seductive . . . insidious . . . flawless. This is one novel that will leave an indelible impression on all who read it.” Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Cuts to the bone. . . . Based on actual people and incidents, this harrowing tale is as compellingly real as it is tragic.” Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Heroin chic? Far from it.” Teen People
“The book is powerful and calculated, intent on affecting readers and shattering pat illusions. . . . [B]rutally honest.” School Library Journal, Starred Review
“Smack is filled with cool British lingo and interesting characters, all the while subtly delivering a harrowing message about addiction.” Seventeen
“Grim and cautionary novel.” The New York Times Book Review
“Smack pulls no punches: Drugs can be fun. And Smack makes it relentlessly clear that fun comes at a vicious price. . . . It will leave you reeling.” Denver Post
“[A]n honest, unpatronizing, unvarnished account of teen life on the skids.” Booklist
“[A] gritty, no punches-pulled chronicle.” News and Observer, Raleigh, NC
“It does exactly what teenagers want a book to do. It tells the truth. It doesn't preach. It makes you think. . . .Smack is as addictive as the drug it profiles. You will not be able to put it down.” VOYA
“The book sticks with you.” Seattle Post Intelligencier
“[A] boot-in-the-gut look at British kids on the dole and drugs.” Toronto Globe & Mail
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Read an Excerpt
A boy and a girl were spending the night together in the if back seat of a Volvo estate car. The car was in a garage. It was pitch black.
"I'm hungry," complained the girl.
The boy turned on a torch and peered inside a grey canvas rucksack behind him. "There's an apple."
"Nah. Any crisps left?"
Gemma sighed and leaned back in the car. She pulled a blanket over herself. "It's cold," she said.
"Barry'll be here soon," Tar said. He watched her closely in the torchlight, frowning anxiously. "Sorry you came?" he asked.
Gemma looked over and smiled. "Nah."
Tar snuggled up against her. Gemma stroked his head. "You better save the batteries," she said in a minute.
Tar turned off the torch. At once it was so black you couldn't see your own hand. Surrounded by the smell of damp concrete, oil and petrol, they carried on their conversation cuddling in the dark.
Tar said, "Come with me."
"What?" She was amazed, surprised. It had never occurred to her...He could feel her staring at him even though it was too dark to see anything. In the darkness, Tar blushed deeply.
"You must be crazy," said Gemma. "Why?"
"What have I got to run away from?"
"Wait till you get home." The two laughed. Gemma had been banned a week before from seeing Tar. Her parents had no id your age sit around watching grown men acting like fools? It'sridiculous!''
Ezra groaned, partly because his father continued to block the television screen and partly because the man at bat had struck out.
Even though he had explained them to him a hundred times, his father kept forgetting the rules of baseball. He still insisted that RBI meant "rubbish brought inside." He couldn't remember "runs batted in." And if Ezra told him that somebody hit a double, Mr. Feldman always asked, "Does that mean they got two points?" Ezra didn't know how a person who could read ancient Greek could be that dumb.
Mrs. Feldman said it was because Ezra's father had grown up in Europe, where baseball is not a popular sport. Mr. Feldman had been born in Germany and had been sent to England before the Second World War. After the war he came to the United States, but it was too late. "I think you have to be born in America to appreciate baseball," Mrs. Feldman explained to her son. "It's the same with pumpkin pie." Indeed, Mr. Feldman didn't like pumpkin pie either, and both Ezra and his mother loved it. Even Harris, born in Chicago and raised in New Jersey, liked pumpkin pie despite his indifference to baseball.
Pumpkin pies came in the fall, just when the baseball season was ending. They were a small compensation. But Ezra kept watching the. calendar and counting the days until February. In February, spring training began, and the newspapers would be filled with more baseball information.
Ezra's favorite month of the year was April when the baseball season opened and his birthday occurred. His birthday was April first, and the baseball season usually opened a few days later.
"April is when the income tax is due," Mr. Feldman would remember. He forgot the new baseball season, but at least he remembered the taxes and his son's birthday. Two and a half weeks before Ezra's tenth birthday, his father came home with an early gift, an electronic chess game for them to share. But sharing a chess game wasn't like sharing a pumpkin pie with his mother. For one thing, Mr. Feldman played with the chess game much more than his son did. Ezra understood the basic rules of chess, but the game wasn't exciting like baseball. Besides, when he played chess with his father, he always knew the outcome of the game in advance. Mr. Feldman won every time.
"You have to lose a lot of games and understand the reasons why you lost before you can win," his father explained. Unfortunately, instead of being encouraged, Ezra found this information more discouraging than ever.
"What's the matter with you?" complained Mr. Feldman. "Harris was beating me when he was your age."
"Ezra is just as smart as Harris, in his own way," Mrs. Feldman said, defending their son. "Someday he'll surprise us. just be patient."
Mrs. Feldman was a radiologist, and at work she was called Dr. Feldman. She worked much longer hours at North Shore Hospital than Mr. Feldman (who was also called Dr. Feldman) worked at Queens College, where he taught. When she came home, she relaxed by listening to classical music on the stereo. She also liked to do crossword puzzles. She was quite good at them, but she could never have finished a puzzle without the assistance of her husband and son. If she needed to know the name...Baseball Fever. Copyright © by Johanna Hurwitz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Melvin Burgess is the author of many novels for young adult and middle-grade readers. Among them are Nicholas Dane, Doing It (a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age), The Ghost Behind the Wall (Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year) and Smack (winner of Britain's Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize for Fiction, as well as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults). In 2001, he wrote the novelization of the film, Billy Elliot. Mr. Burgess lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, in England.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Its a great book. I love the way it switched back and forth from character to character, because you could see all of the caracters different points of views on things.
Smack hits hard with a real life view of herion addiction. At first glamorizing the feeling and lifestyle associated with the drug, the novel portrays the gradual downward spiral that users go into. Gritty, real, and brutally honest, I couldn't put the book down.