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Perhaps the most cautionary aspect of Zailckas' eye-opening account of girlhood alcohol abuse is the fact that her story is surprisingly common. Like many girls, she took her first tentative sips at the age of 14. Two years later, she would remember few details of the night she landed -- bruised, filthy, and completely spent -- in the local emergency room, a couple of drinks away from death by alcohol poisoning.
Zailckas uses lyrical and often poetic language to narrate her ugly downward spiral. From thrill-seeking teenager to blacked-out sorority girl, she refuses to flinch at the disclosure of the humiliating details of her past. She wants to tell her story, and she wants to tell it honestly, as a warning to those girls who would potentially follow in her footsteps.
This terrible societal trend needs courageous women like Zailckas to sound the horn. Today, young girls drink in greater numbers than ever before, and they often binge-drink. Alcohol does for them what it has long done for others: gives false courage, numbs emotional pain, and provides a few hours in which, against all evidence, life seems to be okay. Fans of Goat and A Million Little Pieces will appreciate the sincerity of this memoir; admirers of Odd Girl Out and Reviving Ophelia would do well to read it, too. (Spring 2005 Selection)