Pine Crest Welcomes Author Koren Zailckas


via Kassidy Angelo, Junior

Author Koren Zailckas spoke to the PC Upper School in Stacy Auditorium.

On Wednesday, October 4th, 2017, Pine Crest welcomed author Koren Zailckas to speak in Stacy Auditorium. Zailckas is a young writer well known for her 2005 memoir Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, which made the New York Times Bestseller List for more than two weeks. Growing up, Zailckas faced a tough home life and turned to drinking at a young age to cope. The story follows her high school and college journey through binge-drinking and recovery.  She spoke to Upper School students about these experiences and how to be careful, as she looks back at her mistakes.  Zailckas encourages students to talk things through with others and not rely on alcohol to escape.

After the main assembly, Zailckas offered small forums throughout the day, with each forum catering to a different section of the student body. During these open sessions, Pine Crest students could submit anonymous questions for her to answer. Together, they delved into deeper issues and more details surrounding her story. Throughout the freshman and sophomore girls’ session, they spoke about her children, friends, and family. Zailckas mentioned how she no longer maintains contact with those friends who she drank excessively with, noting they never really developed a true bond while intoxicated. She also advised kids to make friends based on similarities and personalities, not by who is drinking. When Zailckas released her book, it did not just affect her; it affected everyone close to her, as well. This may have made life more difficult, but as Zailckas said, it was a story that needed to be written.

Zailckas discussed how different this type of story can be depending on who is writing it, especially when it centers on teenage girls. According to Zailckas, a middle-aged white male will never be able to identify with the thoughts and feelings going through many high-school girl’s minds today. Zailckas also expressed her wish to see more teen fiction written by younger people, hopefully even actual teens. She also thinks more kids could be helped if younger people start to share their experiences with the risks of drinking. As a teenager, she had been advised by many older people not to drink and drive, yet they never told her about the danger of solely drinking. She thinks people should not just emphasize the driving part because drinking in general can be dangerous; she wants to share her side of the story, so kids know what alcohol can do, even when one is not behind the wheel.

Zailckas’ speech and following discussions provided a powerful insight into what could happen if someone takes fun too far. Reflecting on the assembly, senior Elaina Kokinakos said, “It was the most open assembly. She really shed light on the problems of drinking and how people can struggle with drinking for so many reasons. I think she had a strong message.” Topics like binge-drinking and sexual assault can be difficult to discuss, but Zailckas offered students a different point of view by sharing her own personal experiences. She reminded everyone to be careful in consumption and to remember that there are many options for coping, and the easiest and most effective way to do that can be to just sit down and talk to someone.

Source: Koren Zailckas