Cover Image: Smacked


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"Smacked" by Eilene Zimmerman is a raw and powerful memoir about the author's journey through addiction and recovery. The author's writing style is honest and straightforward, giving the reader an intimate look into the struggles of addiction and the road to recovery. The book is a sobering reminder of the devastating effects of substance abuse, but also a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of recovery. If you're looking for a thought-provoking and inspiring read. I highly recommend this book to anyone affected by addiction, or anyone looking for a story of hope and perseverance.
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I rated this book higher than I would have had it not been non-fiction and an intensely personal account of loving someone with a drug addiction. I wish it would have focused more on Peter's life while he was using instead of so much buildup about their marriage in the beginning, because isn't the point to shed light on the signs loved ones can miss?
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This book started out good and never let up. I though this book was going to be about the author’s husband, but it was also about her life. Very courageous to write this book and let people into your life. I for one am glad you did. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the arc of this book in return for my honest opinion. Receiving the book in this manner had no bearing on this review.
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I found this to be a very revealing memoir about how drugs affect anyone in every walk of life. I think most people believe the downtrodden, underachievers and/or otherwise unfortunate people fall victim to drugs which is far from the truth. Oftentimes, as in this book, those that are in high powered, stressful jobs look for ways to cope and fall prey to taking drugs thinking it can help them deal with their stress. 
Although Eilene and Peter were divorced they shared custody of their children and remained good friends. Peter was living the good life with a multimillion dollar house, fancy car etc. but when he started acting strangely and the children noticed Eilene went to his house to check on him only to find she is too late.
As a journalist she delved into getting as much information as possible scientifically about the causes of drug abuse-the causes and effects. At times I found that part of the memoir overwhelming and chose to move beyond it. This is a very good depiction of what harm drug abuse can do but the sad truth is that the problem can’t be resolved until the person is ready to get help.
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My problem / dislike of this book has everything to do with the author's behavior and conduct - which she retells herself - and nothing to do with the good, hard-working, self-made, family-oriented man / ex-husband she is writing / reminiscing about in this book. It is obvious that the husband as an adoptee loved his parents, sister, his children and even the author, and led a full life, having a variety of hobbies and ambitions, all of which he was a success in, but the manner in which the author chooses to tell the tale of his life is full of her own sense of entitlement, perennial persecution complex and victimhood, putting him and his achievements down, denigrating his family, writing a load of psycho-babble about his drive and ambition, looking down upon his work ethic and accusing him of hindering her non-existent goals in life which she never pursued because she never felt good about herself, but nonetheless blames him for it when he was giving 110% to their relationship even when they were merely dating. And the irony that her book as an author revolves around the ex-husband instead of something original is lost on her.

I also did not like the conduct of the author before and after his death - focussing on and being cavalier about his well-and hard-earned money, house and all other stuff that this poor rich guy had accumulated, and not considering the feelings of his parents and sister was extremely rude and insensitive. 

The fact of the matter is the author didn't give a damn about the guy she is writing about (and giving paid lectures on) and it shows.

It is extremely and painfully obvious that the ex-husband went off the rails after his marriage ended - unless the author is hiding any recreational drug use by the ex-husband (and her) during 3 years of dating and 18 years of marriage - a man does not just overnight decide to get a tourniquet, he obviously did it either before as well, or started when he got out of discipline and structure that married life provides - yet, she and the children don't do anything and don't even call the police / social services to check up on him despite his increasingly isolated, lonely persona and dangerous lack of health for one whole year. It wasn't a surprise to me when he ends up dead on the same weekend his daughter and ex-wife are fixated on when they can get his brand new car from repairs which the daughter has to ride to work, instead of calling in on him to see if he's okay - especially since there is no girlfriend or house-maid in sight and he was obviously extremely unwell (vomiting 'dark matter')! This is not guilt-tripping, this is basic common sense. I'm not saying it's their fault that the poor guy is dead, but the author's behavior is very cavalier and condescending. Maybe it's an American cultural thing, I don't know.

The opioid crisis, the work pressures, the substance of the man is lost in translation.
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This book demonstrates how easy it is to overlook drug addiction in high achieving adults. I'm unsure how I feel about this book. It didn't quite captivate me and yet... white collar drug abuse and addiction is an important and sometimes overlooked topic. My heart breaks for this family and for that, I would recommend it but I think this would be a little too close to home if you have any experience with walking someone you love struggle with addiction.
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3.5 When Eileen finds the body of her ex-husband dead, she finds things she never expected. She had known Peter for 25 years, had two children with him, and because if this she was still very much in his life. She knew him as a work, success driven lawyer, but had noticed he was losing weight, missing key events, showing up late and looking generally sick and very tired. She never expected to find out he was using drugs and how extensive, all consuming that use would be.

An honest memoir, an enlightening one for some, since many of us think drug use is defined by a certain class. It's what we see on TV, read on line or in our local papers. Why would a successful and wealthy man let himself become so addicted to drugs that it cost hm his life? She had expected many things, even mental illness but not this. She set out to discover how prevalent this was in the white collared world.

Section three is about what she found. The reality and prevalence is startling. Stats and statistics from the corporate world, the tech world where pill popping is commonplace. Lawyers who suffer from extreme depression, even physicians who should know better but think they can manage their addictions. Millennials who use Adderall to maintain sharpness and focus. It's all here and if you have any interest in this subject this is good book to read as it combines memoir with cold, hard facts.

ARC from Netgalley.
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This book should be a wake-up call to any person working in, or who cares about someone working in, the high-pressure corporate world.  That a highly educated individual such as Peter should end his life the way he did when he did not really even want to be a lawyer sheds an incredibly pointed look at the world law schools and high-priced legal services are creating for their employees.  Zimmerman’s  generous sharing of her, her childrens’ and her ex-husband’s last days, plus a very concise, well-researched summary  into the world of drug use by white collar individuals should rivet all of us who know people working in situations that are filled with long hours and extreme demands.  No, this book is not going to shed light on the people being revived by our first responders with Narcan, but it should be a wake-up call to persons who think that someone they care about is handling a high-pressure job—this points out that that person may not be handling it the way you think they are.  I was privileged to meet Ms. Zimmerman in person and hear her share her very important message.
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A version of this review previously appeared in Shelf Awareness and is republished here with permission.

Eilene Zimmerman was fooled. Not foolish--family and friends of countless addicts don't see the signs, or accept their more inoffensive explanations. How could a wildly successful, professional father of two fall prey to addiction? In her intensely raw memoir, Smacked, Zimmerman proceeds through her denial step by painful step, leading up to the morning she finds her ex-husband dead on his bathroom floor. Even then, her eyes don't take in the bloody hole in Peter's arm or the drug detritus strewn about his bedroom. It takes reviewing the pathology report and police scene photos for his hidden reality to smack her in the face.

Following the devastating discovery of Peter's body, Zimmerman goes back in time to their meeting, courtship, marriage and eventual divorce. The early details, initially feeling superfluous, eventually make sense as part and parcel of the warnings of and particulars behind Peter's deterioration. Zimmerman deftly paints the portrait of a complicated and tortured man, essential to understanding addicts as fellow flawed humans.

Zimmerman keeps herself and her children afloat through their grief and guilt by trying to understand how they could have been so "blind." She talks to other survivors, clinicians and white-collar addicts, delves into addiction and occupation studies, and sheds important light on the toxicity of the law, technology and other high-pressure careers. Professionals finding it increasingly easier to kill themselves (via drugs and/or suicide) rather than quit their jobs is a current societal trend Zimmerman lived through, investigated and shares bravely.
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What a wonderful and heart breaking story all at once. It's engrossing and will grab your heart and squeeze it. It shows empathy and compassion which are two things that are missing from our lives. Absolutely worth reading. Happy reading!
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Gifted by @randomhouse | Smacked is a perfect balance of journalism and memoir. The book opens with a bang- at the behest of her children, a woman goes to her ex-husbands house for a wellness check and finds him dead on the floor. Not a spoiler- this is the story of how a man went from a family man and a chemist to a lawyer and addict. I found this to be very readable, and the author does a good job considering what it means about her and her biases that despite noticing his symptoms, she never even considered that he might be an addict. She did a good bit of research in writing this and shares some, but I thought it flowed and for the most part it didn’t interrupt her story. 4 stars from me!
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DNF at 54% 

Thanks to Netgalley for the free ebook in exchange for an honest review. 

This story of addiction and what it does to a family was one of heartbreak. But this one just wasn’t for me. It felt a lot like Beautiful Boy which I have also recently read. It just feels like this same story has been told time and time again.
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Sent this book in exchange for review!!! By @randomhouse 
Firstly just want to say, that with memoirs and being about someone’s life I do not rate non fiction, as I’ve said before it’s someone’s life and experience!!!. This memoir was such an heartbreaking story about Eilene, who’s husband had an drug addiction for so many years and the repercussions it put into their family’s lives following the addiction, as well as it being such a emotional memoir on drugs it’s also informative and educational on all the signs of addiction and it breaks the stereotypes of who’s using drugs too, Eileen also told us about the many years she was with her husband and the very progression of his drug addiction and how sick he became. 
This is such an important memoir that needs to be read by everyone and especially for me I couldn’t put it down from start to finish.
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This book was very interesting but the best part about it was it was told in reverse of the way that you would expect this story to be told. It starts with out main character Eilene going to check on her ex husband after she hasn't heard from him in a while. She goes to his place only to find him dead. The book then turns and talks about how they met, how they got married and what led up to their divorce. Eilene watches as her husband and then ex husband get sicker and sicker and how he turns from the man that she once loved to the man she barely even knew. Eilene put up with so much crap from her husband that it amazed me that she let it pile up the way that it did and she didn't kick him to the curb sooner. When her husband dies that is when Eilene discovers that he wasn't sick at all but was actually an addict and it killed him. She talks about every dirty little detail of pain that they went through and it was so fascinating to see how a person can change so quickly. I was very quickly wrapped up in this story and couldn't seem to put it down. It was just so different than anything I've read lately and I very much enjoyed not only the story but the way that it was written. This book is a very important read and will help the reader learn about the impact of drugs on today's society.
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Smacked: A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction and Tragedy by Eilene ZImmerman was a powerful memoir about the author's ex-husband's death. Once a goal-oriented and driven lawyer who was financially successful, Peter's life ended due to his secret drug addiction. After his death, Eilene begins to explore what happened. How did she not know Peter's struggles? Why did this happen? What could have been done differently? The story begins with her backtracking through their past. She looks back at moments before Peter's overdose, and she sees new truths. What she realizes is that Peter was going to great lengths to hide his addiction, and she could not have known. However, at the same time, she sees for the first time what he was doing for his addiction. In the other sections of the book, she explores trends around career and addiction. She puts her journalist skills to work, and she does immersive research on the commonality of Peter's struggles. Throughout, she does not try to tell Peter's story and fill in gaps. Instead, she shares what she knows of his story and what she then learns from her research. To me, this gave the story power. She was writing from a place of someone who lost someone they loved and wanted to understand why this happened. This is a powerful and raw story of addiction. Peter's story was incredibly emotional, and the impact was further amplified by the information about the prevalence of this happening. This is an important read to understand the impact of addiction today. Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced look at this February 2020 release.
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I feel almost stunned (or in shock) as I begin this review.  This book really effected me deeply, even though I can't personally relate to the characters or situations.  I would recommend this to anyone dealing with an addict; that covers almost all of society in the time in history, whether you know it or not.  This book started a little slow for me, but as Elaine and Peter's relationship goes on, you can see the cracks begin to emerge.  Unfortunately, I already knew the reason.  If I had gone into this book blind, I wonder if I would have guessed what was wrong with Peter, or would I have been as clueless as Elaine?  I really felt the turmoil she and her children experienced as life with Peter became increasingly unpredictable.  I can't imagine the time and therapy it has taken to get them all over this horrible time in their lives.  Although, I think if the truth be told, more of us know someone like Peter than care to admit.  I think this book gives great clues and insight to anyone who finds themselves in Elaine's position.  It may even save someone else's life.  Overall, I applaud Zimmerman's handling of their story.  The last part, while a bit technical and fact-filled for some, really did help to explain where society is with drugs today; not just with street drugs used by the destitute in our midst, but by "leaders" in society and industry.  Take the time to read this book.  It will definitely suck you in and inform you.
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I just finished reading Smacked, by Eilene Zimmerman, and I give it 3.5 stars. The book centered around her marriage to, divorce from, and the aftermath with her ex-husband, Peter. While married, they had two kids together and by the end were basically co-habitating in misery. After discovering that one of them had been unfaithful, they decided to divorce. The book told the story of the aftermath...culminating in Peter's death and the discovery that he hadn't been sick, as he claimed, but was instead a drug addict.

This book was a solid 4 star read until I got to section 3. Section 3 was Eilene's conversations with fellow lawyers, drug addicts, and the scientists who researched drug addiction and mental illness. This section was long-winded and kind of repetitive. So the book gets a half-point taken off and is rounded down to 3 stars. But it is a good read if you're interested in learning about addiction and the aftermath. All opinions are my own.
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I was immediately drawn to this memoir about a woman married to a lawyer who she eventually divorces, but remains friends with while slowly watching him getting sicker and sicker. While the beginning of the book was slightly clunky to read, it ended up being a great read.
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I was immediately sucked into this memoir about a woman married to a lawyer who she eventually divorces, but remains friends with while slowly watching him get sicker and sicker. 

I found the first half of the book told in a somewhat "first this happened and then that happened" way. The author chronicles her ex-husband's lifestyle as she ponders what happened to their marriage and life together. She is still involved in his life, however, as they have two children together and the four often get together for school-related activities. As his illness progresses though, she learns to count on him less and less for being on time or showing up all together.

Thus is the life of an addict, which the author eventually learns all about after her husband's death. Being a journalist she does a great deal of research and begins to uncover and pursue what lawyers go through and others who work in high-income, high-stress fields. Through her research and talking with experts in the field, such as counselors, therapists, psychologists, etc., she learns about the high levels of anxiety and depression that lawyers and others experience as a result of their stressful careers, which ultimately leads some into drug use and even death.

The end of the book relays what Zimmerman learns, which helps her to cope in some ways with her ex-husband's death, ultimately helping her and her children understand that there was nothing they could have done to save him. The information she uncovers is up-to-date and extremely interesting as she also gives us information on what is happening with youth who have more and more anxiety as a result of attending high achievement schools in order to partake in high-salaried careers. According to Zimmerman, it is becoming an epidemic that will have far reaching affects.

After finishing this book I continue to think about the author's personal story, as well as what she has learned about "white-collar ambition and addiction." It is a read that sticks with readers and I highly recommend it.
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I knew nothing about this book when I started reading it. I mean, from the title I figured it was about drugs.  But I didn't realize until halfway through that it is a memoir. 

Eilene is a very very good writer. I will be searching for her articles and other pieces. 

What she went through is traumatizing for her and her kids. I've seen my fair share of people falling into drugs and their families/friends failing to see the obvious. Sometimes not until it's too late do they accept the issue. 

Drug addiction, it's easy to think, happens to other people. People who are broke and homeless and... 
But addiction is a disease that doesn't care about money, status, fame or any of that. 

I'd recommend this book for everybody to read, young (teens) and old. We are in the midst of an addiction crisis in the US and Eilene brings it to life. 

#netgalley #smacked
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