Not because it paints a frightening picture by juxtaposing alcohol up against other "more harmful" addictive substances. Not because it will probably fuel the paraonia already in most parents minds when it comes to wonderfing if their teenagers or college-agers still living at home are closet drunks. No, this book should be read for the very reason Zailckas writes in her introduction that she wrote the book: for the utter commonness of her own story. There is nothing terribly extreme or extravagent about Zailckas' experiences, but at the same time, her experiences are as harrowing sometimes as the darkest parts found within and beneath all of us. It's as if she's hitting the world (America in particular) over the head and going, "this happens all the time...why!?" Why is drinking part of what it means to be an American teen? Why is it that at age 21, it's expected that you get smashed and people look at you in almost shock and disgust when they hear you don't? What's wrong when someone is always asked for a reason they're NOT drinking, instead of those who do drink excessively in social situations? I'm all for drinking--believe me. I drink on occassion with friends, but these questions and so many more that Zailckas raised to the surface got me wondering 'what does drinking do to one's identity or more importantly, one's self-concept?' Especially when a kid starts at age 14, like Koren Zailckas did.
Even though the book runs a tad long, it sill reads (most of the time) like a fast-paced fiction novel---building up tension, heightening awareness, and brimming with greater and deeper insights the more pages you jumble through. And to top it all off, Zailckas never falls into the trap of self-deprecating writing. She manages to entertain, inspire, and tickle the annoying hairs on the back of your neck enough to keep you smiling, chuckling and shaking your head in awe throughout the book. So read it...and see for yourself.