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Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir

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Lisa Smith was a bright young lawyer at a prestigious law firm in NYC when alcoholism and drug addiction took over her life. What was once a way she escaped her insecurity and negativity as a teenager became a means of coping with the anxiety and stress of an impossible workload. Girl Walks Out of a Bar explores Smith’s formative years, her decade of alcohol and drug abuse, Lisa Smith was a bright young lawyer at a prestigious law firm in NYC when alcoholism and drug addiction took over her life. What was once a way she escaped her insecurity and negativity as a teenager became a means of coping with the anxiety and stress of an impossible workload. Girl Walks Out of a Bar explores Smith’s formative years, her decade of alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, and her road to recovery. In this darkly comic and wrenchingly honest story, Smith describes how her circumstances conspire with her predisposition to depression and self-medication in an environment ripe for addiction to flourish. When her close-knit group of high-achieving friends celebrate the end of their grueling workdays with alcohol-fueled nights at the city’s clubs and summer weekends partying at the beach the feel-good times can spiral wildly out of control. Girl Walks Out of a Bar is a candid portrait of alcoholism through the lens of gritty New York realism. Beneath the façade of success lies the reality of addiction.


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Lisa Smith was a bright young lawyer at a prestigious law firm in NYC when alcoholism and drug addiction took over her life. What was once a way she escaped her insecurity and negativity as a teenager became a means of coping with the anxiety and stress of an impossible workload. Girl Walks Out of a Bar explores Smith’s formative years, her decade of alcohol and drug abuse, Lisa Smith was a bright young lawyer at a prestigious law firm in NYC when alcoholism and drug addiction took over her life. What was once a way she escaped her insecurity and negativity as a teenager became a means of coping with the anxiety and stress of an impossible workload. Girl Walks Out of a Bar explores Smith’s formative years, her decade of alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, and her road to recovery. In this darkly comic and wrenchingly honest story, Smith describes how her circumstances conspire with her predisposition to depression and self-medication in an environment ripe for addiction to flourish. When her close-knit group of high-achieving friends celebrate the end of their grueling workdays with alcohol-fueled nights at the city’s clubs and summer weekends partying at the beach the feel-good times can spiral wildly out of control. Girl Walks Out of a Bar is a candid portrait of alcoholism through the lens of gritty New York realism. Beneath the façade of success lies the reality of addiction.

30 review for Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    Lisa K. Smith's Girl Walks Out of a Bar is an engaging memoir about addiction spiraling out of control as well as taking charge of that addiction. Stories from functional alcoholics, who seemingly invent a life around their addiction which has nothing to do with the life everyone else sees them leading, fascinate me. They reveal ways we all construct identity and how we present ourselves and see the world. For addicts, seeking help challenges their identity. What does it take for someone to face Lisa K. Smith's Girl Walks Out of a Bar is an engaging memoir about addiction spiraling out of control as well as taking charge of that addiction. Stories from functional alcoholics, who seemingly invent a life around their addiction which has nothing to do with the life everyone else sees them leading, fascinate me. They reveal ways we all construct identity and how we present ourselves and see the world. For addicts, seeking help challenges their identity. What does it take for someone to face their addictions head on? While I wasn't sure (of all the experiences presented) what it finally took for Smith to seek recovery, her account is believable and compelling. 3.5 Stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    When I finished this book (as an ebook), I was a shocked by how many I-was-an-addict-who-got-sober stories that were recommended to me (“If you liked this book, here are fifty more similar books . . .) I like these stories of successful people who lost everything and then claw their way back up to success. In Lisa Smith’s story, she almost lost everything but caught herself before that happened, which is amazing considering that she says she didn’t go a day without drinking for ten years. The dr When I finished this book (as an ebook), I was a shocked by how many I-was-an-addict-who-got-sober stories that were recommended to me (“If you liked this book, here are fifty more similar books . . .) I like these stories of successful people who lost everything and then claw their way back up to success. In Lisa Smith’s story, she almost lost everything but caught herself before that happened, which is amazing considering that she says she didn’t go a day without drinking for ten years. The drinking eventually morphed into barely making it to eleven a.m. to an early lunch where she could order drinks, to starting to drink in the mornings and using coke to keep her going. How she kept her high-powered job while doing this and how she didn’t land in the hospital until the day she checked herself into detox is also stunning. My favorite of this genre of nonfiction will always be Augusten Burroughs’ Dry because I laughed out loud and cried my guts out all through that one. I didn’t laugh or cry once during A Girl Walks into A Bar, but there are words of wisdom on living life sober. This book also didn’t have the harrowing aspects of a book like The Night of the Gun by David Carr because she wasn’t wandering into crack dens in the middle of the night. Instead, as a New Yorker, she just had boxes of wine delivered and would call her coke dealer as if she were ordering a pizza. This is a decently written book for the genre, but it doesn’t break new ground or have any new insights. For more of my reviews, please visit: http://theresaalan.net/blog/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter Monn

    I've read tons of recovery memoirs and I have to say it wasn't my favorite. That being said, the story was well written and compelling and my best friend loved it but I just didn't connect with the writer. Check out my full review on my booktube channel http://youtube.com/peterlikesbooks I've read tons of recovery memoirs and I have to say it wasn't my favorite. That being said, the story was well written and compelling and my best friend loved it but I just didn't connect with the writer. Check out my full review on my booktube channel http://youtube.com/peterlikesbooks

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Conley

    Eye opening first hand account of the horrors of addiction. You never know the types of battles that others are fighting...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Young

    Long drawn out story of a privileged woman with supportive family and friends, a high paying job and the ability to seemingly come out on top, despite dealing with alcoholism and drug addiction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike Keren

    Full disclosure: I learned of this book because it was the winner of the pitch Week Competition at When Words Count Writer's Retreat, a contest which I currently have a book competing in. I anxiously awaited its release and began trading it as soon as I finished the book I had open when it was released. This is an excellent book. Few writers have been able to capture the experience of addiction as eloquently and as vividly as Smith has done in these pages. Augusten Burroughs in Dry is the only ot Full disclosure: I learned of this book because it was the winner of the pitch Week Competition at When Words Count Writer's Retreat, a contest which I currently have a book competing in. I anxiously awaited its release and began trading it as soon as I finished the book I had open when it was released. This is an excellent book. Few writers have been able to capture the experience of addiction as eloquently and as vividly as Smith has done in these pages. Augusten Burroughs in Dry is the only other one i have read. As a psychologist by profession, I have had many clients throughout my long career who have had substance abuse and other addiction issues. I'm not an "addiction specialist" but since much of my career has been in correctional settings I have dealt with addiction's sequelae on an almost daily basis. Like Burroughs, Davis' account really highlights the phenomenology of craving, needing, and withdrawing. Writing, perhaps gives her the distance to describe and recount it in a way that the consulting couch doesn't always permit. Whatever the secret, "Girl Walks Out of a Bar" has definitely added to my understanding of addictions. On a personal reader basis, the book is well written. While many of the reviews have touched upon her use of humor, it is not the element that stood out for me. Her honesty is brutal and unflinching. Her willingness to describe the state of her apartment at the height of her addiction, right down to the stench of cigarettes, booze and perspiration; her admissions regarding her reluctance to commit to sobriety and her painful process of acknowledgement of how hard a sober life will be for her; and her willingness to portray her friends as three dimensional characters who both don't understand her addiction and try to help make for a gut punching read. The the book was over i found myself wanting more. She leaves the writer when her sobriety is still relatively new and fresh. I wanted her to take her honesty and show me the pain of working her "steps", repairing and/or letting go relationships, and how now, years later, the struggle manifests itself. Perhaps she will write a sequel. Smiths a voice for the alcoholic we don't often think about, the one who remains hidden because she still functioned. Her biographical statement speaks to her work getting the message out there, and the World will be a bette, safer and more productive place because of her work. I recommend this book to anyone trying to figure out addiction -whether for themselves or a loved one. I recommend it to fellow therapists who are seeking to comprehend the phenomenology of an addicts experience. i recommend it to substance abuse counselors and other healthcare professionals who need a reminder of the way their behavior can impact a patient's experience and their future. I recommend this book to HR professionals and counselors who face these situations daily. Finally, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, honest memoir. Good reading!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    I absolutely loved Girl Walks Out of a Bar! From the first sentence of the book, I couldn't put down Lisa Smith's compelling and incredibly honest memoir, giving a "behind the scenes" view into addiction in high-pressure corporate law. She keeps nothing from the reader, taking you with her on the roller coaster of highs and lows on her journey from addiction into recovery. You'll be rooting for her all the way!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karyl

    One of my favorite shows on television is "Intervention." I do love watching these types of shows because unlike some folks, I don't use them to feel better about my own life, but because I truly love to see it when someone is able to turn his life around and be the best person he can be. I am always so thrilled when at the end of an episode, it shows that the person has been sober for the last 6 months, and I especially love the follow-ups during the show itself that feature recovering addicts One of my favorite shows on television is "Intervention." I do love watching these types of shows because unlike some folks, I don't use them to feel better about my own life, but because I truly love to see it when someone is able to turn his life around and be the best person he can be. I am always so thrilled when at the end of an episode, it shows that the person has been sober for the last 6 months, and I especially love the follow-ups during the show itself that feature recovering addicts years later and how healthy they look and how good they feel. So this book was really right up my alley. My heart broke when I read how Smith had this voice in her head telling her that she was an imposter, useless, not good enough, never going to make it, when her entire life was full of amazing achievements. It was no wonder that she turned to alcohol to quiet those demons, and then to cocaine to counteract the effects of the alcohol. And it shows that this can happen to anyone -- it doesn't have to result from childhood abuse or a traumatic event, though of course addiction is much more likely in those cases. Smith has a wonderful, supportive family and an excellent career; it was the voiceover in her head, the monster that is depression, that convinced her that she was nothing and would always be nothing. Memoirs can be hard to rate, but I feel like this was better than most. I really enjoyed the way in which Smith organized her book. Starting from her entrance into rehab and then going back in time and catching back up to her recovery made a lot of sense and allowed the reader to join her on her journey. I admit I am surprised and extremely impressed that Smith was able to find sobriety without having to go to an extended in-patient rehab, that the stint in Gracie Square was enough to yank her onto the sober path and encourage her to stay there. I'm always so amazed by the strength of recovering addicts, and I wish Smith all the very best, that she remains healthy and sober so she can continue to defeat the demons in her head.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Philip Mann

    Reading this book, looking over the author`s shoulder as she sinks into a serious drinking problem, you want to tap her on the shoulder and ask," Why are you doing this, why?" At one point she admits to drinking two bottles of wine a day, by a random count. Plus cocaine. And she still manages to hold down a job as a high-flying lawyer. Yet every activity in her life, from a trip to the grocery store, to how to cover up her breath in an elevator, all of it revolves around drinking. And one morni Reading this book, looking over the author`s shoulder as she sinks into a serious drinking problem, you want to tap her on the shoulder and ask," Why are you doing this, why?" At one point she admits to drinking two bottles of wine a day, by a random count. Plus cocaine. And she still manages to hold down a job as a high-flying lawyer. Yet every activity in her life, from a trip to the grocery store, to how to cover up her breath in an elevator, all of it revolves around drinking. And one morning, in a glimpse of self-awareness, she understands how dangerous her life has become, and checks herself into a rehab center. From there she never looks back. I dreaded turning each page, wondering when she would take just one sip, then a glass, and then wind up emptying a bottle. The book goes reads smoothly , in a frightening way. We watch her, from her late teens, slide into a life where drinking accompanies almost every event, and soon is her life. And hen she climbs back up, one step at a time. I found myself dreading each new page, waiting for her to stumble. Her ultimate triumph is a testament to a person of enormous willpower. Girl Walks Out Of A Bar is an autobiography, but could just as easily be called inspirational. A great book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    Just couldn't quite finish it. I kept trying with this book, picking it up again and again, but nothing about it could hold my attention. After reading my fair share of drug and alcohol abuse related memoirs, I found absolutely nothing special, memorable, or intriguing here. I give it two stars because there wasn't anything particularly terrible about the writing or the purpose, nothing offensive or obnoxious, only that nothing kept me interested. I couldn't connect with the author. I'm not sure Just couldn't quite finish it. I kept trying with this book, picking it up again and again, but nothing about it could hold my attention. After reading my fair share of drug and alcohol abuse related memoirs, I found absolutely nothing special, memorable, or intriguing here. I give it two stars because there wasn't anything particularly terrible about the writing or the purpose, nothing offensive or obnoxious, only that nothing kept me interested. I couldn't connect with the author. I'm not sure how this topic could become dull but that was my experience. Dull review reflecting a dull reading experience.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex | | findingmontauk1

    I'd give this one a 3.5 out of 5. I enjoyed the story and really getting into the mind of an alcoholic and substance abuser. It was shocking to realize how so many things we do in life are JUST on that edge of pushing into the land of addiction. And that line is different for everyone I think. I connected with the protagonist in more ways than I would like to admit to be honest. So I applaud the book for helping me to hold a mirror up to myself and see some things that may sometimes be going on. I'd give this one a 3.5 out of 5. I enjoyed the story and really getting into the mind of an alcoholic and substance abuser. It was shocking to realize how so many things we do in life are JUST on that edge of pushing into the land of addiction. And that line is different for everyone I think. I connected with the protagonist in more ways than I would like to admit to be honest. So I applaud the book for helping me to hold a mirror up to myself and see some things that may sometimes be going on. I would read more from this author!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Baggerman

    I'm a bit of an addiction memoir aficionado for whatever reason. While her story made for fascinating reading, I found a lot of her story kind of superficial in its insights. I also thought the writing was a little unpolished. All that said, I did devour it in four days, and looked forward to reading it every night. So it's possible I'm just extra picky about my addiction memoirs.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    The main thing I came away with having read this book is amazement at how much abuse a body can withstand. Reading this book was like rubbernecking at a horrible auto accident. Unfortunately the recovery description, coming very late in the book was glossed over and seemed rushed. However, it is amazing that she was able to quit without relapsing, given the level of her addiction.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I'm a sucker for memoirs of addiction, being in recovery myself. Others might not give it 5 stars. But whenever I'm sneaking in time to read at work and just can't put a book down I feel obligated to give it 5 stars

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Well-written memoir of a successful, driven attorney's descent into substance abuse. For audiobooks I prefer memoirs, and I seem to gravitate toward celebrity, addiction, or messed up family situations (polygamy, living in the wild, etc.) Evidently I like to hear about lives very far afield from mine. The thing that really struck me with this one is something that is quite obvious. Being an addict is incredibly boring. I cannot imagine that endless obsession, the constant planning and plotting. Well-written memoir of a successful, driven attorney's descent into substance abuse. For audiobooks I prefer memoirs, and I seem to gravitate toward celebrity, addiction, or messed up family situations (polygamy, living in the wild, etc.) Evidently I like to hear about lives very far afield from mine. The thing that really struck me with this one is something that is quite obvious. Being an addict is incredibly boring. I cannot imagine that endless obsession, the constant planning and plotting. It is a full-time job and I'm shocked she could have an actual job for so long. It's kind of ironic that the term "partying" is used when it's the very opposite of a party. It all seems like a huge hassle (filed under: duh), which should dispel any old fashioned thoughts that addiction is a choice. I cannot think of anything less appealing than drinking red wine in the morning. So gross. Anyway, fascinating how she managed a high profile job as well as her addiction and did not "lose it all." I'm impressed by the way she approached her recovery. It's interesting, though, because in addiction memoirs about people from decent-to-good childhoods the writers all seemed to be early "experimenters." Maybe that's another "duh" but when they're getting drunk at 12 and trying cocaine at 14 and their parents are generally attentive and around, it's like "how did they not notice?" Overall, a very fast read (listen) and one of the better ones in the genre.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    This was a fun memoir to listen to - tough subject, but Lisa tells her story in a funny and touching way.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Could not put it down!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Billy

    Very entertaining! I was very entertained of a very common tale of drunkenness. She certainly lived it & fortunately came out the other side! Very entertaining! I was very entertained of a very common tale of drunkenness. She certainly lived it & fortunately came out the other side!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Riordan

    This story begins by showcasing the author in her early years. How trivial things begin to shape her into a successful woman working at a law firm. How partying during college turned into a way of life after graduation. Lisa Smith's description's of her home life in New Jersey puts you in her shoes. This isn't so much a lesson of "The company you keep" but rather "The life she chose". And it slipped away. She tells all in an unabashed way and it could have been anyone of us given the opportunity This story begins by showcasing the author in her early years. How trivial things begin to shape her into a successful woman working at a law firm. How partying during college turned into a way of life after graduation. Lisa Smith's description's of her home life in New Jersey puts you in her shoes. This isn't so much a lesson of "The company you keep" but rather "The life she chose". And it slipped away. She tells all in an unabashed way and it could have been anyone of us given the opportunity. Flush with brains, good looks & money and not an ounce of moderation, we get a hard look at the life of an person with an addiction. While at times you may feel sorry for her this is an uplifting story of her courage. You are privy to all her thinking, all her rationale and all her shame. You WILL laugh out loud at certain times. Her way of describing the places and events in her life will make you feel like you are right there with her. Reading this book with make you kinder and empathetic to someone you may suspect of being like Lisa F. Smith

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Although the writing in parts 1 & 2 is perhaps lacking reflection, overall it was an entertaining albeit scary read. Lisa Smith is a lawyer who lives on the edge for years, always partying a bit harder and longer than is best. She reaches a breaking point after living at least a year, waking up and needing to guzzle vodka and/or snort cocaine to keep her hands from shaking and make it to her next opportunity to drink and finally checks herself into a hospital in New York where she can spend a we Although the writing in parts 1 & 2 is perhaps lacking reflection, overall it was an entertaining albeit scary read. Lisa Smith is a lawyer who lives on the edge for years, always partying a bit harder and longer than is best. She reaches a breaking point after living at least a year, waking up and needing to guzzle vodka and/or snort cocaine to keep her hands from shaking and make it to her next opportunity to drink and finally checks herself into a hospital in New York where she can spend a week detoxing. It's incredibly brave to share her story. In the middle it becomes repetitive with her constant inner dialogue begging for a drink, but that ultimately lends itself to the severity of her situation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Recovery memoirs are amazing. I find it incredibly inspiring to read the stories of people who have come out on the other side of addiction—these people are warriors, and having insight into the battles they face helps me, at least I hope so, be a better and more supportive person to people who struggle with addiction or who are in recovery. There’s a balance in recovery memoirs, I’ve found, of describing the hell before recovery vs describing the struggle during and after recovery. This memoir Recovery memoirs are amazing. I find it incredibly inspiring to read the stories of people who have come out on the other side of addiction—these people are warriors, and having insight into the battles they face helps me, at least I hope so, be a better and more supportive person to people who struggle with addiction or who are in recovery. There’s a balance in recovery memoirs, I’ve found, of describing the hell before recovery vs describing the struggle during and after recovery. This memoir was heavy on the first part and light on the second, and I wish there had been some more time thinking about and reflecting on what made the author choose to go from one side of the coin to the other. I also wish the author had dived a little deeper into the class and privilege issues highlighted by her detox stay. But those are more issues of personal preference. It takes an endless amount of guts for a person to lay bare their lowest moments like this, and to be able to connect with another person’s humanity in that context is humbling.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tomungo X

    This is an eye opener, how subtle things can be, partying, to self doubt, to finding happiness, with self, finding acceptance, then substance- is needed to satisfy all those aspects. And then dependence happens. Anyways reading helps how addiction happens and what the dangers are that happen, however, our main protaganist, luckily happens to get through the darkness and has strength to get out of it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    booksandcarbs

    Girl Walks Out of a Bar is the second alcoholism/addiction/recovery memoir I've read this year. I wanted to know more the first few years of her sobriety, especially about how her friendships changed after recovery. This memoir made me wonder if any of the people I interact in daily life are drunk/high as Smith often was during her workday, daytime family gatherings, etc. Both memoirs have made me feel thankful that alcohol is something that I can take or leave.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Preston

    From the hauntingly accurate description of the insanity before admitting herself into detox to the interior mental struggle she faced over coming to terms with her addiction (and some graphic depictions of the obsession of drinking/using), the most engaging and compelling (and identifiable) book on alcoholism.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    What an interesting journey. Having witnessed addiction firsthand it was a remarkable feat that Lisa managed to overcome. Making a three-day stint in detox as something that worked for her long-term. Impressive and smart woman, who has made an amazing life for herself. Be proud of all you've done, even those darker moments, because they brought you to where you are today.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Nixon

    For those familiar with "speaker" AA meetings, this is a long one of those with a girlfriend to friend funny-seriousness. I applaud the author for sharing her experience, strength and hope with rigorous honesty. May we all be so truthful and fearless! This is her story of what her life was like before she was sober, with a brief description of her time in detox and the first few weeks afterward. The bulk is her describing the level of drinking and cocaine use that led her to rehab. I want to be c For those familiar with "speaker" AA meetings, this is a long one of those with a girlfriend to friend funny-seriousness. I applaud the author for sharing her experience, strength and hope with rigorous honesty. May we all be so truthful and fearless! This is her story of what her life was like before she was sober, with a brief description of her time in detox and the first few weeks afterward. The bulk is her describing the level of drinking and cocaine use that led her to rehab. I want to be clear her bottom is a low one, but there are lower and one need not get anywhere near her level of use to be an alcoholic or addict. The chapter on her childhood was a humbling reminder that it's the thinking that make you an alcoholic not the consumption

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodruff

    Great memoir-that read like a young adult fiction novel. Really enjoyed it and the way the author didn't hold anything back. Good look into addiction and how skilled individuals can become at hiding the disease from loved ones.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    4.5 stars Excellent A very well written depiction of the life and daily trials of an addict. Whipped through the book in a day.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mariel Zambelli

    This book was amazing. What a great story of struggle and conquering demons. I felt like I was on the the ride with Lisa every step of the way. Would totally recommend... this was the best memoir I have ever read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Sobering account of what it is like to be a functional addict and alcoholic and hope for recovery.

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