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Review: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Beautiful Boy Summary: (from Amazon.com) A bright, capable teenager, Nic began trying mind- and mood-altering substances when he was 17. In months, use became abuse, then abuse became addiction. By the time Sheff knew of his son's condition, Nic was strung out on meth, the highly potent stimulant. While his son struggles to get clean, his second wife and two younger children are pulled helplessly into the drama. Sheff, as the parent of an addict, cycles through denial and acceptance and resistance. The author was already a journalist of considerable standing when this painful story began to unfold, and his impulse for detail serves him personally as well as professionally: there are hard, solid facts about meth and the kinds of havoc it wreaks on individuals, families and communities both urban and rural. His journey is long and harrowing, but Sheff does not spare himself or anyone else from keen professional scrutiny any more than he was himself spared the pains—and joys—of watching a loved one struggling with addiction and recovery. Real recovery creates—and can itself be—its own reward; this is an honest, hopeful book, coming at a propitious moment in the meth epidemic.

My Rating: 5/5

Review: I happened to find this book at my local library while searching for photography books; I'd heard good things about it and decided it was worth checking out, just to sample it a bit when I had time. I finished it the next afternoon.

This is a compelling, honest, and intense account of a father's experiences as his bright, charming young son falls into a brutal addiction to methamphetamine. What drew me into the story was the way Mr. Sheff told it: rather than throwing the reader into the story after the battle with Nic's addiction had already begun, he starts with his son's birth. He tells stories of his son's creativity and personality as he grows up, until, when Nic is twelve, he finds a bag of marijuana in his backpack. The account of Nic's decade of drug abuse--the change in personality, the opportunities he throws away, the failed attempts at rehab, the times he nearly dies--are heartwrenching and real. I was angered and frustrated and devastated as I read. I saw the uncertainty of hope in such a bleak situation; I began to understand the devastation such an addiction causes. Above it all, I was incredibly moved by the endurance of a father's love despite the deceit and treachery born of the addiction. This is my most highly recommended book of the year, at the very least.

Cautions: Obviously, this book does contain a lot of reference to drug use, as well as some strong language. YA or older.

Next Read: Tweak by Nic Sheff


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2008 06:09 am (UTC)
Thanks for this review. I'm in recovery (though not from meth), so it sounds like it'd be an interesting read.
Dec. 15th, 2008 08:15 am (UTC)
I saw an Oprah episode recently where she talks to both David and Nic Sheff which made me so interested in reading Tweak, more so than Beautiful Boy. I also love the fact that writing was a huge part of these people's lives, in their healing process and as a family.
Dec. 15th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
i loved both his one and 'tweak'. though i think tweak was the better of the two.. though they were both brilliant.
enjoy it!
Dec. 15th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
I agree with your review-- I really liked it a lot

I'm big on memoirs....

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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