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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.
Winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize
“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
A boy and a girl were spending the night together in the 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.
"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 idea where she was that night, but they had apretty good idea whom she was with.
"It'd be something to do," said Tar in a minute. "You're always saying how bored you are."
"That's true." Gemma was the most bored person she knew. Sitting in class sometimes she felt dizzy with it, that she'd pop or faint or something if it didn't stop. She felt she'd do anything just to have a life.
"What about school and that?"
"You can go to school any time."
"I can run away any time in my life."
Gemma would have liked to. She wanted to. But ... What for? She didn't love Tar, she only liked him. Her parents, and her father in particular, were totally ghastly but he didn't knock her around. Not yet anyhow.
Was being bored a reason for running away to the city at fourteen years old?
Gemma said, "I don't think so, Tar."
Tar lay still in her lap. She knew what he must be feeling because she'd seen it on his face so many times. Tar's heart was painted on his face.
Gemma bent down close. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
Tar had a reason, plenty of reasons. The latest were painted on his face, too. His upper lip swelled over his teeth like a fat plum. His left eye was black, blue, yellow and red. Gemma had to be careful not to touch his wounds when she stroked his face.
There was a noise at a small door behind them. Tar and Gemma ducked down out of sight behind the seats.
"It's only me."
"Bloody hell—you nearly killed me," hissed Gemma angrily.
"Sorry. Here, put that torch on so's I can see where I'm going."
Tar shone the beam over to a plump blond boy carrying a plastic bag. He grinned and came over.
"I suppose we ought to have a secret knock or something," he said. "Here." He handed over the bag. Gemma poked inside.
"It's only rolls and cheese. They'd have missed anything else," apologised Barry.
"Didn't you get any butter?" complained Gemma.
"No. But I got some pickle." Barry handed over a pot from his coat pocket.
"Branston. Brilliant!" Gemma began tearing up the rolls and chunks of cheese. Barry had forgotten a knife; she had to spread the pickle with her finger.
Barry watched Tar's face by the torchlight. "Christ! He really laid into you this time, didn't he?"
"Looks like a bowl of rotten fruit, doesn't it?" said Gemma. "Not that you'd want to eat it."
"You haven't been turning the light on, by the way, have you?" asked Barry anxiously. "Only ..."
"We said we wouldn't, didn't we?" demanded Gemma.
"... only they might see it through the cracks in the garage door."
"I told you ..."
Gemma stuffed a roll leaking pickle into her mouth. "Wan won?" she asked Tar thickly.
"Yeah, please." He beamed.
There was a pause while Gemma pulled another roll in half.
"When are you going?" Barry wanted to know.
"Tomorrow," said Tar.
Tar leaned over the front seat and patted his rucksack. It wasn't that full.
Barry nodded. He watched Tar eating for a second and then he blurted out, "But what about your mum?"
Tar looked stricken.
Gemma glared. "His mum's gonna be all right. She'll probably clear off herself once Tar's gone. She's only been staying because of him anyway; she's said that thousands of times, hasn't she?"
Tar nodded slowly, like a tormented tortoise. Gemma glared at Barry and mouthed, "Shut up!"
"Right." Barry nodded energetically. "Best thing you could do for her, clear off. She won't have anything to tie her to the old bastard then."
"That's what I'm hoping," said Tar.
It got very cold in the garage later on. Gemma and Tar snuggled up together and wrapped the blankets around them. They kissed. Gemma didn't stop him when his hand glided under her top, but when she felt his hand sliding down her tummy she slapped his fingers lightly.
"Naughty," she said.
"Why not?" asked Tar in surprise.
"Not here ..."
She didn't mind him touching her there. But she was worried about spending the night together ...
"I just don't want it to go any further."
"You might never see me again after tonight," said Tar cunningly.
Gemma shook her head.
"It won't go any further, then."
`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! <BR/>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... <BR/>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!' * * * * *
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2007
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.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 18, 2014
Posted March 6, 2013
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2012
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.
Posted May 4, 2012
"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.
Posted May 4, 2012
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
Posted May 4, 2012
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.
Posted May 4, 2012
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 4, 2012
'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.
Posted May 4, 2012
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2012
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.
Posted May 3, 2012
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.
Posted May 3, 2012
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.
Posted May 3, 2012
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.
Posted May 2, 2012
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.
Posted January 27, 2012
Posted May 9, 2011
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 9, 2011
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.
Posted May 9, 2011
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.