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4.4 181
by Melvin Burgess

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Winner of the 1996 Carnegie Medal in Literature and the Guardian Prize for fiction, two of England's most prestigious awards, Smack tells a penetrating story about heroin use, a topic that is becoming familiar in the news and one of importance to teens everywhere.

The story begins with Tar, a fourteen-year-old, who runs away from home. He convinces his


Winner of the 1996 Carnegie Medal in Literature and the Guardian Prize for fiction, two of England's most prestigious awards, Smack tells a penetrating story about heroin use, a topic that is becoming familiar in the news and one of importance to teens everywhere.

The story begins with Tar, a fourteen-year-old, who runs away from home. He convinces his girlfriend, Gemma, to come with him, and it is not long before they are engulfed in a loose community of people living in abandoned buildings. Everything seems to be turning out so well: they have a roof over their heads, food to eat, and a brand-new group of friends. And when Tar and Gemma try their first hit of smack, they think life will keep on getting better.

But before long, they find they've lost control. The search for the next hit becomes all-consuming--until a disaster forces Gemma to take matters into her own hands.

Insightful, haunting, and real, Smack is the Go Ask Alice of the '90s. It's a book that every teenager should read--then pass along to a friend.

Editorial Reviews

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 the insidious horrors of heroin will leave an indelible impression on all who read it." Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Barbara Roberts
a mandate for changes in conduct to adults, Smack makes a weak case for social reform, although it provides a glimpse into a culture heretofore unknown by American readers. 1999 (orig.
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 1998: Fourteen-year-old Tar runs away from his abusive, alcoholic parents to a "squat" (an abandoned building) in Bristol, and his girlfriend Gemma soon follows. They're taken under the wing of some older people, but when they meet a couple their own age they go off to live with them. Gemma is impulsive, immature, and a sensation-seeker, and when her new friends introduce her to heroin she takes to it eagerly. They convince the anxious, vulnerable Tar to try it too, and soon they're all addicted. Tar turns to stealing and Gemma to prostitution to support their habits. They try to quit but can't succeed, and it's not until Gemma's horror at her addicted friend's having a baby precipitates a crisis that their lives finally change, though Tar may never get clean. Reminiscent of Trainspotting, this hard-hitting, all-too-believable story conveys both the appeal and the awfulness of heroin. It's told in brief chapters narrated by various characters, including Tar, Gemma, their friends and their parents. First published in Great Britain under the title Junk and winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian prize for fiction, it includes a glossary of British terms at the end to help American readers. Smack delivers a powerful anti-drug message, though its tone and profanities restrict it to mature older teens. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1996, HarperCollins, Avon, 370p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Burgess has taken the toxic concoction of young adults and drug use and presented a chilling reality. This novel is about runaway teens "squatting" (inhabiting abandoned buildings) in Bristol, England. Heroin is the main character. The results of unleashed adolescent experimentation is the theme. The book is powerful and calculated, intent on affecting readers and shattering pat illusions. When 14-year-old Gemma follows her friend, Tar, to the city, she discovers a spirited life accentuated by drugs and free of authority. They soon take up with Lily and Rob, two young junkies. Lily is the personification of Lady Heroin. She's stimulating, erotic, irresistibly intoxicating, in the beginning. At the end, she's used up, wallowing in an almost unfathomable level of inhumanity, injecting smack into the veins between her breasts while nursing her baby. The descent of these young people as they plunge into the heavy-user category is brutally honest. Through first-person accounts, the characters present their circumstances and past experiences in a measured voice, devoid of warmth. Readers are kept at viewing distance. Tar alone is seen in a fragile and vulnerable light. Will YAs devour this novel? Absolutely. It is filled with punk culture, sex, drugs, and life on the edge. As repugnant and horrifying as the journey, the fascination of the feel-good, live-fast, die-young mentality has a sickly sweet lure. Smack is not a lecture to be yawned through. It's a slap in the face, and, vicariously, a hard-core dose of the consequences of saying "yes." -- Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, New York
Kirkus Reviews
In a Carnegie Medal-winning novel (under the U.K. title, Junk) that cuts to the bone, Burgess puts a group of teenage runaways through four nightmarish years of heroin addiction. At 14, sweet-natured Tar leaves his small seaside town for Bristol to get away from his alcoholic, abusive parents. Gemma follows him to escape an infuriatingly repressive (to her, at least) home situation. Reveling in their newfound freedom, the two find shelter with a welcoming set of "anarchists" (punks) squatting in an abandoned building, then move on to live with Lily and Rob, a glamorous couple a year or so older who willingly share not just their squat, but their heroin too. Using multiple narrators, and only rarely resorting to violence or graphic details, Burgess (The Earth Giant) chronicles drug addiction's slow, irresistible initial stages, capturing with devastating precision each teenager's combination of innocence, self-deceit, and bravado; the subsequent loss of personality and self-respect; the increasingly unsuccessful efforts to maintain a semblance of control. Although the language is strong, Burgess never judges his characters' behavior, nor pontificates; more profoundly persuasive than a lecture is the turn to prostitution to finance their habits, Tar's casual comment, "If you don't mind not reaching twenty there's no argument against heroin, is there?" or a scene during which Lily nurses her baby while also probing her own chest for a vein to insert a needle. Based on actual people and incidents, this harrowing tale is as compellingly real as it is tragic.

From the Publisher

“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

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Age Range:
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Read an Excerpt


By Melvin Burgess

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 1996 Melvin Burgess
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9658-7



My parents are incompetent. They haven't got a clue. They think being a parent is like being an engineer or something — you do this, you do that, and this is the result you get at the other end.

Someone ought to give parents lessons before they allow them to breed.

That night in the garage, we never did anything. I mean, I wanted to sleep with him. It would have been a nice way to say goodbye, and poor Tar could've done with a nice goodbye, really. That's to say, if I'd done it before, it would have been a nice way to say goodbye, but I don't know if the first time is the right way to say goodbye. But I might have done it anyway — for me, for him. It wasn't for either of us I didn't.

I only didn't do it for my parents. I wanted to be able to say, Look ... this was my boyfriend. He was in some really nasty trouble, he was really upset, he was hurt, he'd been beat up by his dad for the nth time, he was running away and I spent the night with him because he needed some company.

And I think he might be in love with me.

But there was no sex, we never did that. It was just ... being close.

Is that human or what?

The only thing I regret is that I put my dad before Tar. I won't make that mistake twice.

When I got home the next day, all hell broke loose.

My dad was wagging up and down the room. "There must be limits ... there must be rules."

Mum was sitting on the edge of the chair with no lips trying not to cry.

"We all have to follow the rules, Gemma. When I forbid something I expect you to obey me ..."

I tried to smile at my mum but she looked the other way.

Then he came out with this real beauty. Listen to this. "Her reputation is a girl's greatest asset ..."

Stone Age!

"What about her GCEs?" I said. "What about her ability to put her lipstick on properly?"

My mum tried to bring the conversation into the real world.

"Darling, you're too young —" she began.

"She'll have to learn!"

"What are we going to do, Gemma? Your father's right, there have to be rules. Surely you can see that?"

"Where's David?" my father said. That's Tar. I christened him Tar, because he was always telling me off for smoking.

"You'll get tar in your lungs," he kept saying.

"Ring up his house and find out," I told my dad.

"I have. He's not come home. But his father's promised to give him what for when he does."

I nearly said, He'll have a long wait, then. But I bit my tongue. "He already has," I told him. "He beat him up again the night before last."

Dad snorted. "He got into another fight, you mean."

Tar's dad's a teacher at one of the local high schools. You can see the way my dad's brain works. Teacher = good. Bad relationship with Tar = Tar's fault.

"He hits the bottle," I told him. "Go round and see him next time. You'll smell it. That's the sort of influence we young people have to look up to," I said.

"Don't try and be clever with me!"

"Look ... Tar was upset. He just needed someone to stay with him. But there was no sex. Honest. All right?"

There was a pause in which my dad looked at me. You could see how furious he was. As if me being responsible was some sort of threat to his authority.

Then he said, "Liar."

The whole room went cold. My mother was furious, I reckon. She glared at him. I mean, I don't know if she believed me, but she wanted to. I don't know what he believed. He just wanted to hurt me, I reckon.

He did. But I didn't let him see that. I just said, "I believe every word you say, too," or something, and made for the door. Of course that wasn't good enough for him and he dragged me back and started up again but I'd had enough. I just lost it.

"Just ... drop down dead!" I screamed and I ran out of the room.

* * *

I locked myself in my room and tried to take the planet over with music.

My daddy sighs and lays his hand on my head

Darling girl why can't you do the thngs I like?

Look old man don't you see

This light that shines on me?

You ain't what I want to do.

I played that over and over and over but I expect it was lost on my dad. He never listens to the lyrics.

The difference between Tar's dad and my dad is that Tar's dad is basically a reasonable bloke who forgets to be reasonable, even if it is in rather a big way. Whereas my dad's basically an unreasonable bloke who never forgets just how much you can get away with by appearing to be reasonable.

He came up afterwards and apologised and for a bit I thought the whole thing was going to be settled in a friendly way. I should have guessed what was going on when he started on about how he'd been big enough to admit when he was wrong. Now it was my turn.

Well, I wasn't wrong. I'd have been a real cold bitch not to keep Tar company on his last day in Minely. I was beginning to think the only thing I'd done wrong was refusing to sleep with him. But I know when to open my mouth as well as when to keep it shut. Dad's easy enough to handle. The trouble is he enrages me so much I forget to do it sometimes.

I decided it was time to do sugar-sugar. I apologised, whimpered, flung my arms around him and gave him a hug and a kiss.

"You're still my number one, Daddy," I told him. And he went as pink as a cherry. I had him right there, in the palm of my hand.

That was when my mum popped round the door like something out of a pantomime.

"Have you two made friends now?" she asked as if she didn't know. She must have been hiding behind the door waiting for her cue the whole time. I hate being manipulated.

"Oh, yes," said my dad. "Er, we were just discussing what to do next, weren't we, Gemma?"

Now, my dad tends to be the business end of this parenting. Like, my mum points him at me when she wants me to jump. It was fairly easy to disarm the old man on his own but once my mum came round the corner ...

Out it all came.

No going out during the week. Homework inspection every evening. Privileges withdrawn. ("What privileges? Breathing? Using the bathroom?") Tar, forbidden. Tar's friends, forbidden — that was code for the "louts that hang out on the seafront." Friday and Saturday nights out, back by nine o'clock.

"Oh, can't we make it half past nine, please?"

"If you promise to make it half past nine sharp — okay," replied my mother.

I was trying to be sarcastic.

Job, packed in.

I was waiting for that one. The job was supposed to be the cause of my downfall.

I was trying to be cool. I was dripping sarcasm, dripping. I wasn't even going to bother arguing. But I was livid. So was Mum. I could see Dad looking a bit injured, as if this was all going too far. But Mum had really made her mind up.

I opened my mouth to say something clever but nothing came out — just a sort of bleat.

"Just till you get back on course," said Mum, getting up and smoothing down her skirt.

"You just think that I can't be trusted but I did everything I could to make it blah-blahity ... boo-hoo-hoo."

I should have kept it shut. I never got to the end of the sentence. I was bawling. I rushed out of the room, but I didn't have anywhere to go because they were sitting on my bed. Dad called out, "Gemma!"

Mum said, "Leave her ..."

I rushed downstairs like a wet sponge at a hundred miles an hour. I hid in the kitchen trying to hold my breath.

Then Mum and Dad came back downstairs and I rushed back up and locked myself in my room.

"Bastards, BASTARDS, BASTARDS!" I screamed.

There was an understanding silence.

After a bit I calmed down and I decided to play it cool and hope that the whole thing would blow over. I didn't go out in the week ... well, there was no Tar, was there? The rest of the gang were still hanging out on the beach on the seafront, but I could do without that for a few days. But at the weekend I went to work. I wasn't going to miss that.

I had a nice little job serving tea to tourists. Actually, looking back, it wasn't a nice little job at all, it was slave labour. And only in a place as terminal as Minely-on-Sea could serving people tea be deemed exciting. But I thought it was the bees' nuts, and anyway it was some money in my pocket.

No one said anything to me. They let me swan off out of the house and never even asked where I was going.

When I finally got to Auntie Joan's Tea Room, there was another girl setting out places by the window. Then Auntie Joan came stalking out and ... "Oh ... it's Gemma ... what a surprise."

"I work here," I reminded her.

Auntie Joan peered over her specs at me. She's not my auntie ... she's not anyone's auntie as far as I know. She named herself after her own tea room.

"I hear you've been a bit naughty, Gemma," she said nicely.

I said, "Eh?" Well, what's it to do with her? So long as I don't stick my tongue down my boyfriend's throat while the customers are scoffing scones ...

"Your father got in touch," she murmured, looking all coyly at me.

I didn't say a word. I just waited.

"And I'm afraid there's no work for you here any more ..."

She didn't even have the decency to look embarrassed.

Need I say? Need I say how livid I was? The old bastard had rung up and terminated my job for me.

He had no business.

He had no right!

And as for her, the hypocritical old bat, who did she think she was?

"Since when have you been inspector of the Moral Police?" I asked.

"No need for that," she snapped pertly. "I'm sorry, but I can't take responsibility for employing a girl over and above the wishes of her parents." And she swirled round and trotted out.

I turned round and glared at the other girl, who blushed furiously and tried to hide behind the saucers. I expect she thought I'd been holding one-woman orgies in the kitchen while the kettle boiled.

The humiliation was unbelievable.

"See if I want to work in an establishment where the strawberry jam tastes of FISH!" I yelled at the top of my lungs, and I stormed out. That made her wince. In a moment of badly judged intimacy, she admitted to me that she made her homemade jams in the same pan that she used to boil up fish scraps for the cat. All Minely would know about that before the day was out.

I walked down to the sea and wept and wept and raged and wept. My life, such as it was, was in tatters. As for that old bag Mrs. Auntie Joan — she'd loved every minute of it. There was a myth amongst the local traders that all the trouble in Minely was caused by the local kids. If someone bent a car aerial or turned over a wastebin on the seafront, they'd all gather together like gulls and mutter darkly about youths and no discipline and how the young people were ruining Minely. Of course they were quite happy to welcome any number of out-of-town thugs. They could run around the town vomiting, screeching and kicking wastebins over as long as they liked, and it was just youthful high spirits.

Basically anyone who had a fiver in their pocket was Mother Teresa of Calcutta as far as the local traders were concerned.

Minely was all geared up for tourists. If the local traders had their way, the place would have been closed down in the winter and the native population sent to Scarborough or Siberia or somewhere like that. But that's another story.

Furious as I was at Mrs. Auntie Joan, it was like a mild spring day compared with the soul-deep rage burning for my loving parents.

I didn't go back that day. In fact, I stayed away all weekend as a protest.

Response: banned from going out of the house at weekends.

My next plot was to stay out until ten each night during the week. They couldn't keep me off school in the name of discipline, surely? They got round that by my dad picking me up from school. My God! Everyone knew what was going on. He actually came into the class to get me! I thought I was going to die of humiliation.

This was getting really out of hand. I could see my mother was having second thoughts, but by this time Dad was going on all burners. I heard them arguing one night and I like to think she was trying to get him to slow down, but by that time his authority was at stake and you might as well have tried to stop the Pope blessing babies. Of course Mum didn't have a leg to stand on because she'd started the whole thing off.

My mum is the philosopher in the family.

"The love is there, Gemma," she explained to me. "The generosity is there. The compromise. I don't like treating you like a child. All you have to do is show us you can follow a few simple rules and we can resume a proper family life. You can get a new job and stay out at weekends again. We just need to see some responsibility. That's all we ask."

My parents needed to be taught a lesson.

Don't tell me. You've had this horrendous argument with your parents. Life is abominable. Why should you put up with this? you think. Why indeed? Why not leave home instead? It's easy, it's cheap. And it gets your point across beautifully.

Only it's not easy, is it? That is to say, it might be easy and it might be hard, but how do you know? You're only a kid, you've got things to learn. It isn't as though you can walk into a shop and ask for a handbook.

Well, here it is — what you've all been waiting for:

Gemma Brogan's

Practical Handbook to Running Away

from Home

A Step-by-step Guide for Radical Malcontents

1. You will need: Clothes — woolly vest, long underwear, plenty of keep-warm stuff. Plenty of underwear and other personal items. A waterproof coat. A sleeping bag. A pencil and paper. Money. Your father's bank card and PIN number.

2. Your wits. You'll need 'em.

3. Think about it. What are your mum and dad going to do? Try to get you back, of course. It'll be police. It'll be, Oh, my god, my little girl has been abducted. It'll be, Maybe some dreadful pervert is at her right now. Maybe she's lying murdered in a binliner in the town rubbish tip THIS VERY SECOND! It never occurs to them that little Lucinda got so fed up with Mumsy and Dadsy that she actually left of her own accord. So ... if you don't want every copper in the land on your tail and pictures of little you shining out of all the national newspapers, you tell your mum and dad exactly what you're doing. (Of course, maybe you want your piccy in the local rag. Not me. I was leaving home.)

4. This is where the pencil and paper comes in. You write them a note explaining that you're going away so that they can expect to see very little of you in the immediate future. Wish them luck, tell them no hard feelings and that you hope they will understand. Alternatively you can ask them how they can bear to live with themselves after they've made your young life so unbearable that you've had to go away into the hard world, etc. etc. But beware! This will undermine your credibility.

5. Book your coach ticket using your father's Visa card.

6. Take the money and run.

If you want to make really sure, you write or telephone and tell them how well fed you are and how many woolly vests you're wearing. (This is where the warm underwear comes in.) That way, when they ask the police to help them get their property back, the police say, "Two woolly vests she's got on, has she? Took a sleeping bag, hmm?" Because, you see, while the police might care a whole load about you while you're dead, they ain't going to spend a penny more than they have to on you while you're still alive.

Actually — this is a secret — I'm only going away for a bit. I'll know when I get there. Couple of weeks. A month, maybe.

Mum and Dad don't know that, though.

Tar rang me on Tuesday. My parents had gone to play squash. I started telling him and suddenly I was smiling all over my face. That's when I knew I was really going to do it. Before ... you know, I meant to but there was this thought that maybe I was just kidding myself. But when I began grinning, I knew. He was smiling too. I could hear his face stretching even over the phone.

I felt a bit guilty too because ... he wants me so much and ... People are always talking about love like it's something everyday. People say they love their parents, but what does that mean? Not exactly intoxicating, is it? I hate mine sometimes but I don't suppose I feel any less for them than anyone else. All I know is this: if there is such a thing as being in love, I may not be there yet but when I do I'm going to be INFATUATED. All over the place. I'll do anything for him. You name it. Whatever.

But in the meantime, I intend to make the most of my freedom.

Tar's so sweet. He's the sort of person who makes you want to be close to him. And he's had such a hard time, and no one deserves a hard time less than Tar. He's the sort of person you'd pick to be in love with. Knowing me I'll fall for some real shit with earrings and a loud voice. Just my luck.

So it was ... maybe a bit unfair on him. On the other hand, I liked him more than anyone and I fancied him something rotten. After the phone call I started to think about spending days with him with no one to say do this, do that ... and I just felt SOOOO good about it. Holding his hand in the dark. Sleeping with him, talking to him when there was no one else there. Looking after him because, poor Tar, he needs someone. He wants someone. He wants me.


Excerpted from Smack by Melvin Burgess. Copyright © 1996 Melvin Burgess. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Melvin Burgess is the author of several other highly acclaimed books for young adults, including Burning Issy. Mr. Burgess lives in Lancashire, England.

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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Smack 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 181 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
`SMACK' is absolutely amazing. It gives you a real sense of what it's like for young teens that face temptation and addiction everyday. I found this book to be very interesting and full of dramatic points of view on life and `the life of drugs'. I could not put this book down, I found myself carrying it everywhere and reading a real and I found myself wanting to help them. The way Melvin Burgess wrote the book was unique, each "chapter" was narrated by different characters and I've never read a book like that. I am not the type of person who likes to read, but this book was definitely well written. I loved it!
This book was about two young teens that ran away from home and lived in a town full of people like them, runaways. All of the characters in this book come from different backgrounds and have very different attitudes about life, but all have the same problem: addiction. Throughout the book Gemma and Tar stick by each other and destroy their lives little by little. The two main characters Tar and Gemma are in love but, as time passes they each find the same new love: whether it's a drug or a lifestyle or even both, I'll leave it up to you to read...
I highly recommend this book to other readers who are looking for an easy read about real life issues teens face daily. This book is written beautifully and you feel like your actually talking to the characters and they are telling you in such detail what they are going through. This book can make you laugh, cry, and get angry all at the same time. I would recommend this book to everyone. `Five Stars!' * * * * *
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well, if your like me then im sure this would be one of the best books you can possibly read. It's wonderful and full of twists and life changing problems. Gemma and Tar go through alot and the heroin doesnt help them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was expecting how it would feel like to try herion. I was expecting raw emotions but really it's really only about some ungrateful brat who dutches her parents for a boy she doesn't even have real feelings for. Too predictable.
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Marquis-Ephraim More than 1 year ago
In the novel Smack by Melvin Burgess, he introduces many themes and purposes for why things take place the way they do. The purpose for reading this book was gain awareness of the affects of drug abuse, squatting, and prostitution. I rated this book as a 4 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed this book because it was very relatable, and i could imagine the situations that were taking place. My favorite chapter of the book was the chapter when all the characters were taken out of their comfort zones, and they were actually able to think about how their poor decisions and negative influences had a huge impact on their own lives. They were able to open their eyes and their minds and recognize their mistakes. My understanding of drug abuse has drastically changed after reading this book. I used to think that people who were addicted to drugs were stupid and it was easy to stop. After reading this book, i now realize that sometimes it is more than drugs can really divide a person's sense of reality and immagination.
Ivana_Tisdale More than 1 year ago
"Smack" by Melvin Burgess was absolutely amazing. it was crazy but amazing. the book gives you a real sense of what its like for young teenagers that face peer pressure, temptation and drug addiction everyday. i found this book to be very interesting and full of dramatic views on life and drugs. it was hard for me to put the book down, i found myself addicted to the book to where i felt like i was in the story with them. Melvin Burgess made "Smack" unique , each chapter was narrated by each of the characters and i usually dont read books but i made this book an acception i enjoyed it! The novel "Smack" was about two young that ran away from home to live in a town full of people like them, Runaways. all the characters in the book come from many different backgrounds and have different views on life, but they all battle the same problem: Addiction. Throughout the book Gemma and Tar stand by each others side destroying their lives little by little. The main characters Tar And Gemma are in love but as time passes they both find the same new love: whether it's a drug or decision, you'll just have to read it to find out. i highly recommend this book to other readers who are looking for an easy read about the issues teens go through daily. you will feel like you can relate to the characters as if your in their shoes. i rate the book 5 Stars.
Charles-Bright More than 1 year ago
The novel, Smack speaks more for itself then most books. It takes the life of a one-sided couple who runaway on different circumstances. The two are sent into a world of heroin and the challenges of keeping themselves or losing to their addiction of the drug. It is truly of test of wits, will, and heart as the novel leads them from little kids to adults. The meet with a junkie couple who turns their lives to addiction and by ‘saving’ them from their family and others heroin is then taking to a whole new level. The boy Tar has been beating on by his father and had been trying to protect his mother throughout the young life he’s had with his parents. His mother wouldn’t stop drinking and leave him so Tar ran away after taking countless beatings. Gemma has become a rebel and a brat. She wanted freedom and her parents were taking that away from her. She also has a ‘monkey-see-monkey-do attitude that leads to many of her downfalls throughout her life in the novel. Tar and Gemma has been a couple for a few weeks or more and he’s absolutely crazy about her. Gemma likes Tar but in some chapters she does ‘flip-flopping ‘motions. It is a great book to read due to the fact that not only is there sex& drugs but emotion behind it. People will not like to read a lot of books that or dry that is a few some people will consider. I will rate this 5-star because of the key elements and how the characters are portrayed. My favorite Chapter in the novel is when Tar had taken the wrap for everything once of drugs that were in the house where Gemma were. He wasn’t trying to let Gemma go to jail. He also had a thought to get clean in his own mind so he can be better for her. During the time he was in rehab Gemma had been writing to him and was trying to stay clean for him as well. After months of recovery he returns to the gang and an excited Gemma. During the party Vonny looks for Tar and when she finds him, He’s smiling big and glossy-eyed. My least favorite chapter was when Tar and Gemma had gone to a rave. She was feeling herself and the music so much she followed the crowd after her and Tar danced awhile. He asked to head back and she declined and flipped him off without another word. She was dancing up and o=anther people and a guy gave her a drink and asked to come home with him. She gave one more look at Tar then she nodded and went with him. After talking to the other girls in the limo she jumped out and hugged Tar then gave him his present. She would have left Tar at the rave if she didn’t give him a present. Melvin Burgees style of writing is very creative and keeps you into the story with a curious intent on what will happen next. I applaud him on his way of thinking and the new understanding of drugs. It makes me want to make a book on drugs as well. I hope he makes more interesting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The novel smack written by Melvin Burgess was a very exciting book to read. it kept my attention from beginning to end with everything that happened to each character. i enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to a friend. although i had to read it for school purposes it will be a book ill always remember reading. my momst memorable part of reading this novel would have to be when everyone reied to quit all of the drugs they were taking. it really stuck with me because right then i realized just how depepndent they were on smack. Burgess really got the message through to me with the writing style that was used. it felt like i could relate to the teens who ran away from their issues. a lot of times thats what most teens who face conflicts at home want to do and this showed me how easily a young mind can be manipulated. Tar was my favorite character in the book because he began with good intentions. all he really wanted was to be loved and in the end he was defeated by that thirst for love and affection. i had prior knowledge to how drugs can affect people but this book really gave me a different insight and confirmed all of my previous notions. this was a great book and in my personal opinion deserves the 5 stars i gave it because it showed you a little bit of everything in the streets and the outside world.
marks2 More than 1 year ago
The novel smack by, Melvin Burgees was a very good book i read it in school. i liked the book alot due to the fact that it related what was going on in society today. i do not agree with what some of the characters did in the book, like when gemma decided to runaway from home at the age of 14. that was really sad but it got worse when they got addicted to herion. i would consider young adults to read this book to show them whats out there in the world. i would use this book to give young people a scare so they would not runaway at a young age. my favorite chapter in the book was towards the end when tars dad spoke about how messed up his relationship was with his son. tars dad admitted that he messed up and hope that one day tar would give him a call and ask for advice. that was very sad and i felt sorry for tars dad. in other words the book is great i would give it a four star rating . it shows the challenges that a young person might have to go through in the society today. i would recommend young adults between the ages of 13-18 to read this novel.
RayROSE More than 1 year ago
'SMACK' is a book I would definitely recommend all teenagers to read. It teaches about what heroin can do and who it can do and who it can effect. It effected friends and familly that weren't even on heroin in a major way. The way Burgess wrote the book was not only to tell the heroin addicts P.O.V, but even the friends and family P.O.V. Tar and Gemma are two runaways that were innocent and in love until they met Lily and ROb. Lily and Rob are kind of the reason why the book became so interesting. Before them two, Tar and Gemma were only two runaways that smoked weed and got drunk. A year later, they become heroin addicts. The story itself is sad, but the intensity it brings out is brillian. Melvin Burgess deserves an award.
Asja-Willams More than 1 year ago
In the novel, Smack by Melvin Burgess was a great book to let students read. The purpose of reading Smack was to let teenagers read the experiences of other teenagers in the book. I would rate this book out of scale one through ten a ten. I liked this book because I see the different point of view of how the teenagers felt about prostitution, drugs and teen pregnancy. My favorite chapter was Gemma calling the police and wanting to get out of the terrible situation that she was in. My least favorite chapter was Tar and Gemma trying drugs because easily they got hooked on to it. I like the fact that Burgess wrote in each character’s point of views because you can actually understand where they are coming from. My new understanding of drug abuse is never try it because you can easily become hooked and start doing things that cause you to change and willing to give up anything to get more and more drugs.
blakeborn More than 1 year ago
The novel smack by Melvin Burgess was a great novel. At first I thought I would be just another book about addiction that I would have to read for school but after the first couple of chapters I was the one addicted to smack (the book). His writing style is so unique and in depth he not only gives you the story but he makes it seem as if you’re in the book he makes the reader feel so involved and the way the story is put together is perfect. The characters are so real it almost seems as if you’re reading a memoir he brings life to all his characters no one is left out or unheard feelings thoughts and emotions get brought to the light from all sides which make this an ideal read for anyone. I would rate the novel smack five out of five stars but because the story is hard to follow when you have to read the story from so many angles after a while it may be hard to follow or you might lose a little focus and drift away from the novel and because of this I rate this book four out of five. Melvin Burgess changed the way I look at addicts and squatters I understand that it’s more than what meets the eye and not to be so quick to judge. In the story the main character has a main character has a dad that abuses him and you get every side of the story but his and at the end you get a chapter from his dad explaining why thing were the way they were. And that was my favorite part of the book. So overall smack by Melvin burgess was a great novel.
dmo1 More than 1 year ago
In the novel Smack by Melvin Burgess two teens runs away from home because they don’t like the way the parents treat them. The boy named Tar is constantly abused by his father and neglected by his mother. Both of his parents are alcoholics. The girl Gemma has two good parents that spoils her but oneday she gets into an argument with her parents when she decides to stay out late with her boyfriend Tar on his last night in town which leads to her stealing her fathers money and runs away with her boyfriend Tar. I think every school should read this book it shows you how real life events occur in normal people life. It shows how one mistake could change your life. I rate this book five out of five. I liked the style of this book on how the events falls smoothly together and how it placed so you could easily understand the situations that taking place In the book. My favorite character in the book. My favorite character in the book was Tar because he was able to escape from his parent get off of heroin and change his life around. My least favorite character is Gemma shes still immature. She influenced Tar into taking heroin, she got him arrested, and when he finally comes home she doesn’t want him to touch her and is not sure that her new born child is his.
Jecsi18 More than 1 year ago
The book Smack by Melvin Burgess was a book that I had to read as a school assisgnment. If it wasn’t for this class, I would wouldn’t have picked it up. This book didn’t interest me at at all. If I had to rate this book I would give it a two out of five stars. The concept of the book was decent, but the way the way it was written wasn’t good in my eyes. When we were first going to read this book, our teacher gave us a brief description about the book. When I heard the description I had really high expectations. I thought the whole book was going to be full of drugs and teen abuse and prostitution. It took to long to get into the good part of the book. I didn’t like how they wold take it from several people’s point of view. It was a little hard to try to get the story down. When it would get to the good part of the characters section, the author would switch to the next character. I didn’t really enjoy this book to much.
byronLC More than 1 year ago
In the book smack written by melvin burgess is about mainly two teen agers running away from home and prostituting themselves for drug money to support their habbit. And they meet people along the way. The purpose of reading this book was because we were on a topic in class that pretained to drug abuse ,and withdrawl. This book book fitted the situation. I liked the chapeter when gemma and tars house was getting rated by the police. And tar ttook the blame for everything just to make sure gemma was safe and not in trouble. What chapeter i didn't like is when tar came from jail back tothe squating house and lily starts talking about him saying he's better than them because he's clean and went through rehab. From a 1-10 i would rate this book a 10 because it is very interesting book. Once u read it youre going to have to keep reading it.
Requel-Walker94 More than 1 year ago
Reading the book Smack by Melvin Burgess for school showed me the outcome of people on drugs. The rating I would give the book would be a 10. I say that because the book had my whole attention. Not at all did I get bored. That is the good thing about the book; you will not get bored of whatever is happening. I did like it and everything that happen in order. That was the important part about the book was that I like it and gave it my full attention to it. It just showed what people go through when they are on drugs and other things that could happen that is a surprise in life. The way I would rate Burgess’ writing style would be a 10. I sat that because Burgess made it believable and realistic. People that can write like that show their creative side and how you can learn from it. Those types of book are good to read and understand the view point of the author. The rate I would rate the characters would be a 10 because the characters were believable and easy to understand what they felt. It was like you knew them personally and wanted to help them. By reading the novel Smack, my understanding for drugs abuse has expanded. A lot of things I did not know, but by reading has made me think of what people will do for drugs and what kind of life they want to live. Therefore, the novel Smack was a great novel and I would read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mike-C-J More than 1 year ago
The book Smack by Melvin Burgess an very outstanding book that includes premature too mature teenagers abusing drugs, conquering life problems. The drug became something far more than what they can handle which lead to drastic events and interesting problems. Smack by melvin Burgess is an overall 4 out of 5 starts the book is very good for teenagers to read and even adults. Smack by Melvin Burgess also has a interest for adults because it has some realistic parenting problems. The book Smack is an definate must read.
selfmade More than 1 year ago
The novel Smack is a book that we had to read in school and is written by Melvin Burgess, and it is about a group of teenagers that are having problems with their parents and have ran away from home and are trying to survive on their own. One of them was a young boy named Tar and he did not like the way his parents did not let him have fun. Tar and the rest of the other teenagers in the book eneded up living in this abandoned house and doing drugs like Heroin and other drugs and participate in other unacceptable behaviors for teenagers. They had a mindset of doing whatever you can do to get money and make a living and turned out good to them, but was really ruining their lives slowly day by day. They got addicted on the drugs that they were doing and some of them had to go to rehab and other institutions to try and help them but they did not think that they were addicted so that really did not help them at all. If I had to give this novel a grade I would grade it an A- because these are really things that happen in the world today and many kids across the world can learn from this novel. I liked the book because it spoke from the teenagers's perspective and that helps the reader relate to it better. It really shows the kids thoughts and not just from the authors perspective. My favorite chapter was towards the end of the book and it was Gemma's chapter when the guy that Lily brought home raped her and Rob was about to call the police but Lily told him not to because of all the drugs that they had and that was an abandoned house. Also when Gemma was trying to help Lily with the baby, but Lily got upset because she did not want Gemma to think that she was a bad mother. His writting style helped me better understand what the kids were really going through and makes the book more interesting.
teeana More than 1 year ago
The novel smack is a book that we had to read for school and it is written by Melvin Burgess. The novel is about teenagers that didnt like the way their parents ran things so they decided leave home and live own their own. Once the teens ran away from home they found them a vacant house that three older people stayed in. The people who already lives in the house accepts the two teenagers to come live with them. Tar and Gemma(the two teenagers)likes the way they are living and doesnt want to go back home ever. They find friends who are like them and start doing whatever they wanted to do including illegal things. They start smoking, drinking, and stealing. After a while the teens had gotten bored with doing just that, so they end up doing hard core drugs such as heroin and dope. When they started doing the drugs they didint realize how much it would have an impact on them. The drugs took over their life, kill some of their friends and almost killed them. What I enjoyed about the novel is that it is real and blunt. The story does not sugar code anything, it talks about all the bad things they do and how they do it. Things that have happened in this story really can happen in reality. Teenagers do go through things like running away, doing drugs, and just being rebellious. There are also situations that I did not like, like how Gemma peer pressures Tar into doing things that he really does not want to do. Overall it was a great book to read. I loved it, it kept me interested in every little detail.
Rashad81 More than 1 year ago
As part of the Contemporary Issues class I just finished reading the book Smack by Melvin Burges. On a rating scale of one to ten with one star being the worst and ten stars being the best, I would award Smack five stars. The reason I gave the book a five out of ten is because half of the book I liked and half the book I really did not care for as much. The parts I really did like were mostly at the end of the book where they all start getting clean from heroin. The person I was really a big fan of was Gemma. Gemma was a follower at the beginning of the book and she did what everyone else did. She ran away from home because he parents was controlling. At the end she change for the better and she got off heroin and stayed clean for her baby and I know that was hard to do. The people I really did not care for were Lily and Rob. Lily and Rob was the people who got Gemma and tar to start drugs in the first place .If it wasn't for lily and Tar they would of never did heroin they would of never went to jail and Gemma would of never had a baby. All these things can happen to you if you hang out with the wrong people. If you do good thing, good thing will happen to you.