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Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Meth Addiction | [David Sheff]

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Meth Addiction

David Sheff's story is a first: a teenager's addiction from the parent's point of view, a real-time chronicle of the shocking descent into substance abuse and the gradual emergence into hope.

Before meth, Sheff's son, Nic, was a varsity athlete, honor student, and award-winning journalist. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who stole money from his eight-year-old brother and lived on the streets. With haunting candor, Sheff traces the first warning signs, the attempts at rehabilitation, and, at last, the way past addiction. He shows us that, whatever an addict's fate, the rest of the family must care for one another, too, lest they become addicted to addiction.

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Publisher's Summary

David Sheff's story is a first: a teenager's addiction from the parent's point of view, a real-time chronicle of the shocking descent into substance abuse and the gradual emergence into hope.

Before meth, Sheff's son, Nic, was a varsity athlete, honor student, and award-winning journalist. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who stole money from his eight-year-old brother and lived on the streets. With haunting candor, Sheff traces the first warning signs, the attempts at rehabilitation, and, at last, the way past addiction. He shows us that, whatever an addict's fate, the rest of the family must care for one another, too, lest they become addicted to addiction.

You can also hear Sheff's son's perspective in his memoir: Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines.

©2007 David Sheff; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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....This is an honest, hopeful book, coming at a propitious moment in the meth epidemic." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (578 )
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4.1 (207 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Book and Movie Lover Austin 03-13-08
    Book and Movie Lover Austin 03-13-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    615
    ratings
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    98
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    "Painful and honest account"

    This account by David Sheff about his son Nick's meth addiction was lengthy but riveting nontheless. The account leaves nothing out, starting with Nick as a baby, young child, school-age, middle school, teenager. This detail is offered apparently to give the reader an open look at Nick's life and see that drug addiction can happen to anyone. (Nick was very bright, great athlete, artistic, funny, charming, had it all). Nick experimented with marijuana and alcohol at around age 12 or 13 and graduated to other drugs as he got older. Eventually he settled on meth (speed) as his drug of choice. As any parent, David wanted to believe the best about his son so when his son said he was not using drugs he believed him until forced to acknowledge that he had been using all along. Like any parent, he wanted to believe his son was not a liar and under normal conditions (not high/using), his son was not a liar. He tried everything to manipulate his son to become a good non-drug using citizen, put him in rehab after rehab, chased him all around California, begged, cajoled, threatened jail, and was just obsessed with knowing where Nick was even when it was obvious Nick was bent on self-destruction. Perhaps the most startling part of the book was after David had a stroke and was in the hospital intensive care ward. He couldn't remember his name, or even the year (thought it was 2015), but he was obsessed with being able to call and check on Nick. He kept telling the nurse he had to call Nick to find out how he was. After all the rehabs and efforts by the family, he finally had to just give up and put Nick's life into his own hands. Very interesting book for anyone who might have a drug user in the family. Offers some interesting insights, especially should help alleviate guilt felt by parents of users who blame themselves for a child's addiction.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Kraut Oakland, Ca 05-06-10
    B. Kraut Oakland, Ca 05-06-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "A Gripping Story"

    I thoroughly enjoyed hearing this book read. I had heard the author and his son, the subject of the book, interviewed on NPR when the book first came out and the story stayed with me for a year before I decided to download the book. For anyone who has lived with a loved one who has an addiction problem, I think it is a necessary read. The story was eloquently told and all of the facts about meth addiction were explained in a way that I had never before understood to this degree. I highly recommend this book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-03-10
    04-03-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrifyingly real..."

    Sheff recounts in amazing detail, the horror he and his family continue to endure through his son's ongoing meth addiction.I found myself leaving earlier in the morning to catch the traffic jam, just so I could listen for longer.

    As a professional of the medical world, I found his research and explanations excellent and pharmacologically accurate (as you'd expect of a journalist).

    I loved this book, although I understand the agony and hopelessness Sheff expresses at times may be overwhelming to some - this really is the world that meth creates. Sheff does make some significant realisations on his journey which would assist anyone who also has a loved one with methamphetamine addiction.

    I look forward to now reading/listening to Nick's account although I am terrified that by doing so I may be feeding the very habit he's trying to quit.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Scarborough Broomfield, CO 11-26-12
    S. Scarborough Broomfield, CO 11-26-12 Member Since 2008

    Lit Lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    74
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    "Been There"

    My own son is addicted to drugs (though not meth) and alcohol. He read this book and insisted that I did. I admit, the first half of the book was horribly painful for me. It was as if I was reading about my own family and their struggles. However, it got me to admit things to myself that I had not been able to previously. I know from experience that this book is as painfully honest as it gets. By the end, I was nodding. Yes, there is only so much I can do for my son, but, I can deal with my addiction to his addiction in the most positive way possible. I can help myself. Well done Mr. Sheff!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 06-17-12
    Tim United States 06-17-12 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "A Family's Love"

    After reading Tweak, (Nic's story about his addiction), I was looking forward at reading his father's prospective. At first, I was ready to write a bad review because the story is kind of hokey at times, and it becomes a sob story. I thought that there was too much pity over a junky and I was getting annoyed with the read, but something happened as I read more of Nic's father's point of view.

    I imagined putting myself in his dad's shoes and thought about my family and wondered what I would do in this situation, where you are seeing a love one destroy their lives over and over. I don't know. I hope that I wouldn't give up on them, but I don't know if I would give them handouts each time they relapse. I hope that I will never experience this in my life.

    The book is very honest and narrated from his father's voice on his son, but there are other voices in his story on how they want to get Nic to get better. For example, we hear support from his other family members, and Nic's two younger siblings from his father second marriage, which they look up to their big brother.

    Hearing their love for their step brother, step son, and their son, made the story worth it because it shows a family's love.

    The book would been better if his father was the narrator because Anthony Heald overacts with his performance.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brandee menifee, Virgin Islands (U.S.) 03-29-10
    brandee menifee, Virgin Islands (U.S.) 03-29-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Emotional roller coaster"

    Being a new parent, this hit me harder than I expected. A realization that any family can be hit by this tragedy and I found myself getting teary eyed throughout the book. It is heart aching to hear this fathers story but the story is Told well and with great Narration. Some subjects tend to go on too long such as explaining the drug but overall I recommend this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roxanne 12-24-08
    Roxanne 12-24-08

    I like good stories about animals and history

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Honest and Heartbreaking Rollercoaster"

    Amazing! The author was able to put my life in a book and we have never met. Any parent of an addict who needs assurance that they are not alone in their struggles will find themselves in this book. Any person thinking of having children needs to read this first to open their mind up to the possibility that no matter how much someone loves their children there are no guarantees of happiness. Thank you for putting my feelings into words.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Seattle Customer 07-16-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "interesting at times"

    I really wanted to like this book. There just wasn't enough material to stretch into a full book. It would have made a better magazine article.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    06-18-08
    06-18-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "heartbreaking"

    Beautiful Boy is a heartbreaking, but clear picture of what life is like for family members going through addiction with a loved one.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Vista, CA, United States 03-23-14
    Martin Vista, CA, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Such a powerful story"
    What did you love best about Beautiful Boy?

    Loving this story is hard when you've lived it. It's filled with heartbreak and fear all parents of addicts have experienced.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Again, there are few laughs in the story or the tragedy that us as parents have gone though. The tears flowed many times when I could relate to David's fear and despair.


    Any additional comments?

    To all parents of addict's, find an Al-Anon group near you. Find many if you need it and keep going. You'll find serenity and hope and realize that you truly have been affected by this disease.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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