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.
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*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