Smashed (Random House NZ, 2007)
2008 Esther Glen Award (LIANZA) and 2008 Notable Book (Children’s Literature Foundation NZ)
Meet Toby, the super-bright, skinny Asian guy and his fiery red-haired sister Rita. Throw in Carl, his brain addled by ADHD and any substances he can lay his hands on. And Don, son of alcoholic parents, whose actions one fateful night change the path of all their lives.
Smashed hurtles through the lives of this group of friends as a series of events unfolds that none of them can predict — or control. As Toby finds himself deep in trouble and confused about the truth, he is forced to the vital question: are we really just puppets controlled by our genes, or do we have the free will to rewrite our own destiny?
Smashed tackles gritty teenage issues such as alcohol, physical and sexual abuse, and anger. But author Mandy Hager delivers it with a sense of humour and great sensitivity. It is a thoughtful, pacy read – one that is hard to put down.
Smashed tells the story of three teenage friends, and how their friendship, loyalties and values are thrown into confusion when the main character’s younger sister is raped by one of his best friends. His reaction sets in motion a “ripple effect”, which culminates in a violent act of revenge upon the rapist. Has our hero done this? As he finds himself deep in trouble and confused about the truth, he is forced to the vital question: are we really just puppets controlled by our genes, or do we have the free will to rewrite our own destiny?
It’s a cautionary tale of growing up – of the huge and complex challenges today’s young people face in their lives. Told with humour and compassion it is also, ultimately, a story of courage, love and redemption.
DARE use this novel in their Dare To Move On lifeskills programme.
“One of the best teen novels out this year” – NZ Listener.
“Mandy Hager’s new young adult novel is that rare combination – tightly plotted, brilliantly paced and exquisitely characterised as well.” – Dominion Post.
“Kiwi author Mandy Hager kept me enthralled from the first chapter until the very last.” Tearaway.
“Wellington writer and teacher Mandy Hager was awarded New Zealand’s longest running book prize, The Esther Glen Award. The Award was established in 1944 and is given to the author who is considered to have made the most distinguished contribution to literature for children. The prize was presented to Hager for her young adult fiction book, Smashed (Random House) and is defined by judges as “a stand-out story about seeking the truth, with characters that are believable, strong and still in our minds long after we close the covers.” – LIANZA
Smashed has been adapted by Radio NZ here: audio version