from author’s website

Eilene Zimmerman has been a journalist for three decades, covering business, technology and social issues for a wide array of national magazines and newspapers. She was a columnist for The New York Times Sunday Business section for six years and since 2004 has been a regular contributor to the newspaper. In 2017, Zimmerman also began pursuing a master’s degree in social work. She lives in New York City.


Something was wrong with Peter. Eilene Zimmerman noticed that her ex-husband looked thin, seemed distracted, and was frequently absent from activities with their children. She thought he looked sick and needed to see a doctor. Yet in many ways, Peter also seemed to have it all: a senior partnership at a prominent law firm, a beautiful house by the beach, expensive cars, and other luxuries that came with an affluent life. Although they were divorced, Eilene and Peter had been partners and friends for decades, so, when her calls to Peter were not returned for several days, Eilene went to his house to see if he was OK.

So begins Smacked, a brilliant and moving memoir of Eilene’s shocking discovery, one that sets her on a journey to find out how a man she knew for nearly 30 years became a drug addict, hiding it so well that neither she nor anyone else in his life suspected what was happening. Peter was also addicted to work; the last call he ever made was to dial into a conference call. Eilene is determined to learn all she can about Peter’s hidden life, and also about drug addiction among ambitious, high-achieving professionals like him. Through extensive research and interviews, she presents a picture of drug dependence today in that moneyed, upwardly mobile world. She also embarks on a journey to recreate her life in the wake of loss, both of the person—and the relationship—that profoundly defined the woman she had become.

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“A powerful and important contribution to the literature of addiction and its impact on individuals and families, Eilene Zimmerman’s Smacked tells the story of her ex-husband’s secret, spiraling addiction, which resulted in his sudden, shocking death. A rare combination of journalistic rigor, personal courage and writerly grace, Zimmerman’s account illuminates, as David Sheff’s Beautiful Boy did, that addiction is not a choice, not a moral failing, and not a problem that any amount of love, intelligence, talent or success can shield or save you from. A shattering story of terrible loss, learning, and survival, this is memoir at its most engrossing and most useful.” — BILL CLEGG, AUTHOR OF PORTRAIT OF AN ADDICT AS A YOUNG MAN

“[A] moving and intimate memoir…Zimmerman’s wrenching story and her extensive research into the hidden crisis of white-collar drug addiction
will resonate with many readers.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW

Smacked is a story that will both break your heart and, in the wake of loss, make you think long and hard about what it means to have ‘everything.’ In lucid, precise prose and with a crushing honesty, Eilene Zimmerman traces the emotional and social forces that make it possible for one man, ostensibly on top of the world, to be visibly killing himself and for no one to recognize his fall. — HEATHER HARPHAM, AUTHOR OF HAPPINESS: THE CROOKED LITTLE ROAD TO SEMI-EVER AFTER

“A searing account of how the author came to terms with her ex-husband’s unexpected death from a hidden drug addiction …
A timely reading experience in these hectic times.”— KIRKUS

“In this brave and suspenseful memoir, Eilene Zimmerman traces a deeply personal family story while illuminating urgent and troubling social issues. Smacked is an exquisite examination of the repercussions of addiction, as well as the influence of white-collar money and ambition, upon a family. A profoundly absorbing and important book.”— ADRIENNE BRODEUR, AUTHOR OF WILD GAME

“An unvarnished and wrenching exploration of opioid abuse in a wealthy, white-collar world that resonates across class and cultures.”— NEWSWEEK, MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2020

“A searing and extraordinary memoir, Smacked peers into the life of the white collar addict, showing us how the enslavement to not just drugs, but wealth and success, in this country can ruin marriages and families. Zimmerman achieves not just gorgeous prose and a suspenseful and engrossing story, but also more compassion and insight than I have encountered for this subject. Smacked is unputdownable and addictive, in the best way possible.”— CLAIRE BIDWELL SMITH, AUTHOR OF THE RULES OF INHERITANCE


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