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3.2 4
by Lisa Luedeke

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A field hockey star grapples with addiction in this riveting debut that will appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

Stay out of trouble for one more year, and Katie Martin can leave her small town loneliness behind forever. She is a field hockey star on the fast track to a college scholarship, but her relationship with alcohol has


A field hockey star grapples with addiction in this riveting debut that will appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

Stay out of trouble for one more year, and Katie Martin can leave her small town loneliness behind forever. She is a field hockey star on the fast track to a college scholarship, but her relationship with alcohol has always been a little questionable. Then trouble finds her. Alec is the most popular guy in school, and also the biggest bully—with his sights set firmly on Katie. When Alec turns on the charm, Katie thinks she must have been wrong about him.
Except that she wasn’t. On a rain-soaked, alcohol-drenched night, one impulsive decision leaves Katie indebted to Alec in the worst possible way. This debut novel is a fast-paced and compelling story of addiction, heartbreak, and redemption.

Editorial Reviews

"Readers of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (1999) will be drawn in by this similarly powerful tale of overcoming trauma and finding inner strength."
From the Publisher
“[A] powerful debut. Gripping and relatable, Luedeke's story portrays Katie's conflicted psychological state as she attempts to reconcile her guilt with her slow awareness that she deserves to feel safe. A thoughtful and complex portrait of addiction, accountability, and the debilitating impact of low self-esteem.”

"The compelling pace and relatable characters make this novel a solid recommendation for readers who enjoy Ellen Hopkins and Gail Giles."

"Readers of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (1999) will be drawn in by this similarly powerful tale of overcoming trauma and finding inner strength."

Children's Literature - Sandra Eichelberger
Katie Martin is on track to get a field hockey scholarship that she needs if she is to go to college. She is hard-working and has some good friends, but all is not right in Katie's world. Her father abandoned the family when she was young, and his absence haunts her. Her mother is hardly better. She has a personal agenda that keeps her away from her children a substantial amount of time. Then there is Alec, the big man on campus at Katie's high school. He is a popular jock who struts around and does whatever he likes. When he begins to pay attention to Katie, she is puzzled but she likes how thoughtful he is and how well he listens. Maybe people have misjudged him and he is really not a jerk? Alec's interest begins a change in Katie's personal life, and events occur that could result in her scholarship hopes being dashed. Luedeke's book is a hard read not because of the writing but because Katie's actions spiral out of control, leading toward a precipice that one fears is coming. Readers will dread each step in Katie's decline into alcohol, drugs and a dangerous relationship. The book is frank and straightforward in depicting the partying behavior of high school students. Although there is a balance between the kids who party and those who abstain and are not total nerds, Katie is caught up with her depression and guilt and leaves behind her level-headed friends. There is no magic wand to erase Katie's bad choices; the reality is that she must deal with her actions. Alec's character is not a simple stereotype; there is complexity to him. He does some very thoughtful things for Katie and at times seems genuinely caring. But there is always that inner voice telling Katie and the reader that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. The dialogue rings true, and the books is a smooth read. Luedeke writes with honesty about adolescents making poor choices. The reader will be torn by wanting to see what happens between Katie and Alec and dreading it. Reviewer: Sandra Eichelberger
Publishers Weekly
Luedeke's powerful debut centers on a talented but troubled senior who makes a mistake with far-reaching consequences. Katie Martin is planning her escape from her small Maine hometown, where she is tormented by memories of the father who deserted her and left Katie to care for her younger brother while her mother is away. Katie's best bet is a field hockey scholarship, but overwhelmed by feelings of emptiness, she drinks: "By the third beer, the hollow space in my gut, that space that I dreaded more than anything, had disappeared." One night Katie gets drunk at a party with Alec, who has been pursuing her; to escape his advances, Katie gets behind the wheel, accidentally crashing his car and injuring them both. To save Katie's reputation and future Alec claims that he was driving, and she becomes indebted to him. Gripping and relatable, Luedeke's story portrays Katie's conflicted psychological state as she attempts to reconcile her guilt with her slow awareness that she deserves to feel safe. A thoughtful and complex portrait of addiction, accountability, and the debilitating impact of low self-esteem. Ages 14–up. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Aug.)
VOYA - Laura Perenic
Katie Martin's life is in turmoil since her father walked out on the family. Alec Osborne is a hot, popular senior. Katie and Alec's relationship is instantaneous, but Katie's self-deprecating prevents her from fully accepting his sudden interest. Katie is aware of Alec's unpredictable behavior. Despite warnings from friend Matt, Katie cannot escape Alec's control. Katie survives a car accident, but remains trapped as Alec uses the wreck as leverage to keep their relationship going. Katie knows that she is in jeopardy, yet she is afraid the truth could endanger her more. The truth could also jeopardize her field hockey scholarship. Katie struggles to shake her reputation as "Martini," who drinks and smokes, even signing a drug and alcohol contract to protect her scholarship future. Young adult readers will empathize with Katie's struggle with alcohol addiction. Parts of the story feel familiar; the naive younger girl falling for the older, "bad boy" is not a new plot. Neither is Katie's attempt to fix one problem by creating another. Drinking to numb the pain of sexual assault only causes more trouble at school. The inescapable sense of danger will draw readers in as they watch the chaos swirl around the main characters. Luedeke creates a complex, emotional knot that slowly chokes Katie, who is indebted to and controlled by the same person who says he loves her. Reviewer: Laura Perenic
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Traumatized freshman Katie Martin relays her story to a university shrink. Starting with the summer before her senior year, Katie describes working two jobs (teaching swimming lessons and scooping ice cream) and suffering from an absent mother and long-gone father. Katie finds herself surprised when Alec, a cruel, handsome jock, pursues her. She lets herself get "sucked in" by him despite her better judgment. Disaster strikes when Katie gets drunk at a party, drives them home, loses control of the car, and wakes up bloody with Alec in even worse shape beside her. After she walks to get them help, everyone assumes Alec was behind the wheel, and Katie doesn't tell them otherwise. She starts fall field hockey with a chance for a college scholarship and an order from her coach that no team members will drink or do drugs and still play. She also begins the new school year with Alec in a sadistic position of power as the keeper of their shameful secret. She throws herself into preparing for the field hockey state championship, but her worries drive her to drink at home. Finally, at a New Year's party, Katie finds she can't escape Alec's cruelty and the aftermath of his actions cause her to hit rock bottom. The compelling pace and relatable characters make this novel a solid recommendation for readers who enjoy Ellen Hopkins and Gail Giles but are looking for something less intense.—Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
Kirkus Reviews
"If you drink some wine and there's no one around to see it, does it still count against you?" Katie's counting that it won't. A promising field-hockey player entering her senior year, an athletic scholarship is her ticket out of crummy little Deerfield, Maine. But she also loves the feeling she gets after three beers--and margaritas. That summer, handsome Alec romances her with deep conversation, sweet gestures and tequila. When he's drunk, though, his sweetness disappears, and in trying to get away, Katie, also drunk, jeopardizes both her athletic career and their lives. She also gives him a very dangerous hold over her, one that sends her into an alcohol-fueled despair. There's little subtlety to this book, from the title and cover to the "scared straight" descriptions of Katie's vomiting jags. Debut author Luedeke gives the likable Katie sound psychological underpinnings to her alcoholism--her beer-swilling father abandoned them, her wine-drinking mother is hardly ever at home--and a truly hellish bind with Alec. She also gives her staunch friends, a supportive field-hockey coach, an awesome little brother and, eventually, a caring therapist. Add up the pieces, and the result is an above-average problem novel that will have readers flipping the pages in a literary version of rubbernecking. Katie's tale is so clearly a cautionary one, though, it may not reach the audience that most needs it. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.93(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


  • The summer before my senior year I hooked up with Alec.

    Alec Osborne: tall, cute, built. The guy every girl wanted and every boy wanted to be. That’s how it seemed, anyway. He was captain of the football team, captain of the baseball team. Damn, he was captain of the debate team. Even the teachers looked at him with awe. He was it in our small high school.

    But this is the honest-to-God truth: I never saw why. I never knew what they saw in him—the pack of friends that swaggered with him through the halls, the girls, his teachers. To me it was bizarre, his appeal. I couldn’t see it. He was a big jock; that helped his case. But it was more than that. He could sway people, win them over. But not me.

    That’s what I thought, anyway.

    Alec’s friends were football players mostly, or basketball, or baseball, or all three. They were good-looking. But they were arrogant, too. Not all the guys who played sports—that’s not what I’m saying. Just these guys Alec hung out with. There were plenty of good guys who were athletic. My best friend, Matt, for one. And field hockey means everything to me; it’s my life. No, playing football wasn’t what made Alec the way he was. I’ll never understand what made Alec the way he was.

    Anyway, we went to the same parties, had a few of the same friends. Both of us were totally devoted to our sports. We had those things in common; that was it. He’d never been part of my plans. But back then, what I planned and what I did weren’t always the same thing.

    Sometimes that was a problem.

    You can make your head spin asking yourself why you did something. Something your gut tells you is trouble. But there are some questions that don’t have answers—not good ones, not ones you can live with. This is what’s true: I let myself get sucked in by Alec, even when I knew better.

    And I did know better.

    It started early that summer, in June. I’ve gone over it in my head a hundred times.

    *     *     *

    “Nine!” Matt hollered as I emerged from the water. He held up nine bony fingers as if that made it official.

    “What? That dive was so a ten!”

    “Sorry,” he said, poker-faced. “Toes not quite pointed on the touch. Gotta deduct one for that. If I don’t, what does a ten really mean? What is a ten really worth? I mean, if I allowed that . . .”

    “Shut up.” I laughed and swiped my arm across the lake’s surface, sending a mini tidal wave in his direction. Water flew up and over where he sat on the side of the dock, his long legs dangling over the side.

    “Shouldn’ta done that,” he said, grinning, and hopped in, arms and legs flying, chasing me all the way to the ring of buoys and beyond, straight across the lake.

    Breathless, we collapsed in the shallow water on the opposite side. Kids’ voices echoed across the lake’s surface. Our little town beach sat in one of the lake’s narrows, and a ten-minute swim got you to the other side. Not far, but a world away when the beach was crowded and noisy, which it was on this first truly hot day of the summer.

    Matt leaned back, his elbows sinking into the wet sand. His legs stretched out into the lake, toes poking out of the water.

    I propped myself up next to him, then lifted my chin to the clear blue sky. “There goes Cassie.”

    Matt looked up. A tiny, silent airplane passed slowly overhead, leaving a thin white trail in its wake.

    Cassie, the third member of our trio, who any other summer would have been sitting here beside us, had left that morning for London. There, she’d spend the summer with her aunt and cousins seeing and doing things I could barely imagine. I’d lived in Maine all my life. I’d been to Boston twice. By car. That was as far away as I’d ever been.

    “Must be nice,” Matt said.

    I kicked at the soft sand under my feet, sending smoky clouds through the water. “No kidding.”

    We were stuck here like the rest of our friends, working two jobs, trying to save money for college.

    “I’ll miss her,” I said.

    “I’ll miss her boat.”


    He laughed. “She’s insane in that boat.”

    I pictured Cassie—all five feet two of her—at the wheel of her parents’ motorboat, red hair lit up in the sunshine, grinning as she gunned the throttle and took off down the lake. We loved going fast in that thing, the wind tangling our hair, our loose T-shirts flapping in the breeze.

    “Remember this?” Matt threw his arms dramatically across his chest in a big X and leaned back in the water, laughing.

    I shoved some water at his head. He knew I remembered.

    It had been June and Cassie had just moved here, so we were about thirteen. The three of us had ridden in Cassie’s boat up to the widest part of the lake and shut off the motor as far from any shore as we could get. I’d dared them to jump in with me, and we’d plunged into the dark blue water in shorts and T-shirts. Matt came up hollering. The water was still only about sixty-eight degrees on the surface, and when you jump off a big boat, you go down deep.

    “It’s like the ocean!” Cassie yelled, pulling herself back on board.

    Exhilarated by the cold, I went back under, then opened my eyes and swam until my breath ran out.

    “You’re crazy!” Cassie said to me when I came up again. She was hugging herself, shivering in the sunshine. “Are you really staying in there?”

    “It doesn’t feel that cold,” I said.

    “That’s because everything’s numb,” Matt said.

    When I climbed back into the boat, my thin white T-shirt—under which I’d worn nothing—had turned transparent. I threw my arms across my chest in the big X.

    “Don’t worry.” Matt turned around and grinned. “There’s nothing to hide.”

    “Men,” Cassie said, rolling her eyes, and tossed me a life jacket. We all remembered what Cassie now referred to as “the wet T-shirt incident.”

    *     *     *

    “Men,” I said to Matt now, but Matt’s attention had shifted, his whole demeanor changed.

    “Shhh,” he said, and touched my arm, signaling me to stay still.

    I followed his eyes to a line of ducklings that had just emerged from some brush, swimming in the shallow water behind their mother. While the mama duck hovered protectively, the baby ducks dove for food.

    We watched them, silently, until they finished, lined up once more, and swam away.

    “Reminds me of your family,” I said.

    “We’d need Dad and Grandma taking up the rear,” he said. “And Mom’s protective of the twins, not me.”

    “That’s because you don’t need protecting.”

    “Not anymore,” he said, and a shadow crossed his face. Sometimes I forgot how bad it had been in middle school, when Alec Osborne’s sidekick, Scott Richardson, had relentlessly bullied Matt. It was so many years ago—and Matt could hold his own in any situation now—but he’d never gotten over it.

    “Definitely not anymore,” I added. “Let’s swim back.”

    *     *     *

    The beach was quiet, only a few stragglers left. The air had cooled and the mosquitoes were starting to swarm in the shade under the tall pine trees where Matt and I sat on a bench putting on sneakers and T-shirts.

    “Damn things,” I said, and swatted another one. They could eat you alive in June. “Let’s get out of here.” I ran to grab my bike.

    When I wheeled it around, Matt was standing still, skateboard tucked under one arm, his eyes fixed on the dirt parking lot across the road.

    “What the hell is he doing here?” he said.

    I followed Matt’s gaze to a blue and silver pickup truck, the handles of a lawn mower sticking up in the back. Alec Osborne sat behind the wheel. He lived in Deerfield, ten miles away, where there was a bigger lake and a nicer town beach.

    “Who cares?” I said, and I meant it. I had no use for Alec.

    “I do,” Matt said. “I can’t stand that guy.”

    “No one can.”

    “That’s not true,” Matt said, “and you know it.” He jumped on his board.

    I climbed onto my bike and began to pedal slowly, watching Matt as he weaved down the lake road on his skateboard just ahead of me. His balance seemed effortless. With each turn, his long, slender body bent gracefully, a tall blade of grass in the wind. The breeze blew his bright blond hair back from his face.

    Something made me hang back. I stopped pedaling, letting Matt get farther ahead. Then, I don’t know why I did it—curiosity, the strange sensation that someone was watching me, the pull of something I didn’t understand—but I looked back toward the beach as we rode away. And for an instant, my eyes locked with his: Alec Osborne had stepped out of his truck and was standing still on the pavement, staring up the road after me.

  • Meet the Author

    Lisa Luedeke is a debut novelist. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. Visit her at LisaLuedeke.com.

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    Smashed 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
    BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
        Smashed is a gritty and hard hitting book. I connected with Katie and it was hard to watch her spiral down and lose so much and be in so much pain. I could predict what would happen, just not how she would get there, but it was still a hard and emotional journey.      Smashed is for mature teens because of the drinking, drugs, and hard and dark issues. While Lisa handles everything with finesse, it is still a dark book. It is laced with hope and healing, but it is a long journey to get there.      I was invested in Katie and the characters, especially her best friends Matt and Cassie. I really loved their friendship and how it is not perfect but they are there for each other no matter what. I can't imagine being in their shoes, seeing Katie in so much pain, and not knowing what to do, especially when she starts withdrawing, and looking so bad.      I can totally understand though where Katie is coming from, the rough home, the questions of being loved because of her father abandoning them and her absent mom. On top of the roller coaster of a  relationship with Alec, and the guilt that comes from "the event."      Smashed deals with some important issues, drinking and its negative consequences, bullying, and how things can escalate... intentionally or not. There are some omissions of truth that Katie lets happen, and it snowballs on her and leaves her with a lot of guilt and a sense of owing someone that gets her into worse positions.      The pacing was good, there was always something going on and character development. I didn't want to put it down, and I wanted the best for Katie.  Bottom Line: Darkly beautiful journey that led Katie down a hard road and to her healing. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a great book--I literally could not put it down!! Katie is the teenager we have been or hope to be--smart, complex, confused, and oh so in need of family and love. Who couldn't relate to this book and think about what they would have done in Katie's place? Life is about decisions--good ones and bad ones--and Smashed mirrors those decisions, tapping into the universal themes that make us all human. This book has been compared to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak and I see why. The characters are real and unforgettable.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Not my type of book. It sort of was interesting the beginning. But i didnt grab my attention like books are supposed to. So i skipped to the last chapter. It was a sweet ending. This is a book for people who like realistic type of books. With things that could happen in real life. Me im more of a thriller, comedy, supernatural book type of girl. Sometimes all together.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I think it sucked & wish I could get my money back =\ Def not worth 10 bucks!