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Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction [Hardcover]

David Sheff
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 26 2008
What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted every moment of David Sheff's journey through his son Nic's addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic Sheff became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets. David Sheff traces the first subtle warning signs: the denial, the 3 A.M. phone calls (is it Nic? the police? the hospital?), the rehabs. His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself, and the obsessive worry and stress took a tremendous toll. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every avenue of treatment that might save his son and refused to give up on Nic.
Beautiful Boy is a fiercely candid memoir that brings immediacy to the emotional rollercoaster of loving a child who seems beyond help.

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From Publishers Weekly

Expanding on his New York Times Magazine article, Sheff chronicles his son's downward spiral into addiction and the impact on him and his family. 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Although the journey of the subtitle seems too dreadful to experience, even vicariously, Playboy contributing editor Sheff's intense memoir is hard to put down. Beyond the visceral torture of helplessly watching Nic, his adolescent son, descend deep into the rabbit hole of addiction, Sheff confesses to the ubiquitous parental habit of second-guessing every decision he has made throughout Nic's life, especially the ones he is forced to make as he tries to help the young man get and stay clean. His efforts have him turning to any and all resources, from AA to medical experts to rehab centers and finally to friends, for advice and assistance. The experience all but tears him and his family apart as Nic forges his parents' signatures on checks, steals his eight-year-old brother's savings, promises to reform, then repeatedly fails to stick with a rehabilitation program. In the end, it isn't the addiction as much as the repeated failures and relapses that are so debilitating for everyone involved. The book originated in a much-lauded New York Times Magazine article, which Sheff here expands in scope, sharing his and Nic's wisdom, missteps, and successes, and the lessons they learned. A must-read for, at the least, anyone in similar straits. Chavez, Donna
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent observation, hope and courage. Sept. 3 2008
This is an excellent self observation of an entire family. David Sheff takes us to his own and his son's painful journey in fight with addiction and proofs that once a father always a father. A father never looses hope, never gives up even though sons and daughters give up. My boy always will be the "beautiful boy" addict or non addict.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning to Understand Through Love! April 10 2009
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
David Sheff, a professional journalist, has written a powerful account of his journey with his son, Nic, as he attempts to help him to recover from a meth addiction. This is a real-life story that is filled with a gamut of emotions such as fear, compassion, frustration and triumph. What is most compelling about his recollections is that they follow in an easy-to-read prose the daily struggles that both parent and son endure in order to get a handle on this deadly addiction. What Sheff ends up telling his readers is how to build a long-standing filial relationship with an addicted son by practicing love leavened with a lot of mercy and wisdom. On a more practical level, Sheff provides his readers with all the gruesome and sordid details of what it is like to become a crack addict, right down to the physiological and mental destruction such a dependency causes. I picked up the book because it was recommended to me by another colleague on staff who deals with crack users in her program. As I read it over a couple of nights, I couldn't help feeling that Sheff is a very unique person who expresses a solid commitment to seeing healing taking place in his son's life as well as his own. Seeing the tangible proof of Sheff's genuinely heartfelt desire to help his son while knowing that it might still not be enough make a difference is the real reward of reading this book. I was personally challenged to understand afresh what it really means to be a parent of a child going through such agonizing adversity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book hit home, and I've been there Aug. 28 2012
Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on DrugsI don't have much to add to the excellent comments above. But I read the book about 2 years ago, and it was completely heart-breaking. Having been an addict myself, this was one of the few books that brought me tightly into the perspective of "the other" -- the family -- those who get hurt almost as much as you do, in fact maybe more. It's one of the few accounts I've read that get you to hate addiction without having to stoop to a moral judgment, one way or the other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sad journey June 5 2010
This book was a sad journey into a dad's life with his drug addicted son and how it affected him and the rest of the family. I found it well written and honest and it made me feel alot of the same feelings that he himself felt going through all of the pain and heart ache with his son. I applaud him for being so open about something that has been hidden for so long because of embarassment and people not wanting friends and family to know about drug addicted family members. A must read for anyone going through something similar.
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