Smack 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 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.


About Melvin Burgess

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Melvin Burgess has produced a body of work that is both challenging and thrilling, including the seminal teen drug and love novels "Smack" and "Doing It". His books have been adapted for film, stage, and television.
Published June 8, 2010 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR). 352 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Smack

Kirkus Reviews

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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 in...

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Publishers Weekly

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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."

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Publishers Weekly

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In telling the story through some 10 different voices, Burgess may well dazzle readers with the novel's flawless construction and his insights into character and relationships--most notably Tar's metamorphosis from loving, gentle na f into a copy of his violent, self-deceiving father.

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No matter what books you have read that deal with young people with drug problems, you'd be hard-pressed to find another book covering this subject matter that is this gripping and authentic.

Aug 02 1999 | Read Full Review of Smack

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