Decisions of the street: "Smack" by Melvin Burgess

Essay by painted-in-greyJunior High, 9th gradeA, November 2006

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Life on the streets is filled with conflicts and decisions we don't face all too often. For Gems and Tar of Melvin Burgess' "Smack", life is about having fun and at the same time being strong. These two teenagers run away from home and live in abandoned houses called squats in 1980's Bristol, England. Here on the streets, Tar and Gems meet a great deal of interesting people, and are faced with a different world. This new world is full of drugs and sex, ups and downs. The decisions they make, whether to stay or go, or whether to love or not, will affect them greatly.

For Tar, the seventeen year old boy, life at home is not the best it could be. His mother is an alcoholic who uses him as something to cling onto and to blame, while his dad is violent and also drunk a lot.

Tar decides to leave the abusive home in hopes of things improving. His mother might learn to take care of herself better with him gone, and his father won't be around to hurt him. On the other hand, Tar is dreading the possibility that his father will take his anger out on his mother who will be more drunk then ever. Tar has to face himself and decide which is best. The good outweighs the bad and Tar leaves home.

Once on the streets, Tar's girlfriend Gems is faced with a decision of her own. When the two go to a concert, or a bop as it was called, a good looking guy offers to take Gems with him to his place. The idea of running off with this person is something that interests Gems. She is just about ready to take off when she remembers Tar. He is...