Beautiful Boy

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beautiful Boy
A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
by David Sheff

This nonfiction book tells the story of a meth addict from his father’s point-of-view. The father was a journalist long before his son became a tweaker, so he already had the writing skills and was able to put his raw emotions into words. It’s a heartbreaking and honest look at how someone can quickly become lost to the world of addiction. His son, Nic, was smart and kind, but on drugs that person just disappeared.

One thing I think it’s important to note is that I’m not a parent. I think that any parent who reads this will have a much harder time with the material. Imagining your own child in this situation is absolutely terrifying and I don’t think I can truly grasp that without kids of my own.

One of the aspects that was the hardest to read about was the effect Nic’s drug use had on his younger siblings. At one point his kid brother (I think he was about 8 years old at the time) realizes Nic has stolen everything out of his piggy bank. The little boy is so hurt and confused by the action.

There are parts of the book that feel a repetitive, but I think that’s the nature of the disease. Addiction is cyclical, rehab, relapse, rehab, relapse, etc. and it’s hard to avoid the book taking on that same pattern. But even with that it was a compulsive read, one that I couldn’t put down. He can’t help but feel their pain. You hope that this time the rehab has worked, but you can’t help but fear a relapse is just around the corner.

I’m curious about the book “Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines” by Nic Sheff. It’s written by the son, the addict that the book revolves around. I think it would be fascinating to see the whole situation from his point of view after reading this.

BOTTOM LINE: The book is wonderfully written, but it will break your heart. Addiction is such a destructive disease and Sheff paints an intimate picture of what they went through.

This one was narrated by Anthony Heald and it was excellent. I think I might have been frustrated by the repetition more if I hadn’t listened to it, but the audio was so well done that it worked for me.

“People with cancer or emphysema or heart disease don’t lie or steal. Someone dying of those diseases would do anything in their power to live, but here’s the rub of addiction. By its nature people afflicted are unable to do what from the outside appears to be a simple solution, don’t drink, don’t do drugs. In exchange for that one small sacrifice you will be given a gift that other terminally ill people would give anything for, life. But, a symptom of this disease is using.”

Image from here.


Care said...

I remember seeing the author and his son on of the morning news shows and thought it really cool that you could read both sides of the story. But I don't think I would enjoy the experience - reading it and most definitely not living it. I see enough from dealing with friends who are experiencing it.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Just reading your description of the book gives me a stomach ache! Can you even imagine how hard it is for a parent to deal with the lying and stealing and self-abuse over and over again, and NOT get fed up with it all? I have so much admiration for anyone who can get through this and see their child to the other side.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Care - It's terrifying to think about going through it, but I agree the pair offer a unique look at the experience. I don't think we've ever really been able to see it from both sides in the same case before.

Sandy - I honestly don't know if I could have read this book if I was a parent. It was agonizing even without having my own kids to think of.

Jenners said...

I think I have this book somewhere, and I've always meant to read it but it always seemed to sad and heavy duty. I can't imagine the heartbreak of seeing your child be a drug addict. It would be interesting to read both of these books though and see it from two perspectives. My hope is that he has become more rehabbed now and broken the cycle of addiction.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - I hope he stays clean too!