Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Review: Beautiful Boy

I've been putting off reading this book for quite some time now. I'd read reviews of it—knew the subject matter—and somehow was reluctant to read it. This is David Sheff's memoir of his son Nic's battle with meth addiction. It's a hard book to read, especially if you have a 17-year-old son, like I do. Unless a parent lives in utter denial, you can't help but thinking, "This could be my kid."

Because it could be, really, anyone's kid, and that's one of the points that Sheff makes. It doesn't necessarily matter how lenient or how restrictive you were as a parent. It doesn't matter if your kid is an outcast or the most popular kid at school, an honor student or barely passing classes. Meth, he contends, is not content to hang out in trailer parks or the projects. It can seduce anyone at anytime.

Meth got his brilliant, witty, happy son Nic and turned him into a trembling, sneaking liar, who was so desperate that he even stole from his eight-year-old brother. This is David's story about Nic's addiction and about how David dealt with the fear, helplessness, denial, and tremendous guilt associated with being the parent of an addict. David finds himself struggling to live a normal life for his two young children while being essentially constantly thinking about Nic.

Sheff is an excellent writer. The story is sometimes terribly repetitive, but that in itself reflects the nature of addiction: the same cycle over and over and over: recovery, relapse, recovery, relapse. One can't help but google Nic Sheff immediately upon finishing the book, hoping to find him still in recovery but fearing the worst.

Turns out Nic Sheff has his own 2008 memoir, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines and a mySpace page that looks to be fairly current. I hope he is doing well, and that his younger brother and sister, as they are entering the age where his addiction started, are staying strong—and far, far away from meth.

I can't say I enjoyed reading this book—who could? But I'm glad I did.

1 comment:

Staci said...

This book shook me to the core as a parent...and Nic's memoir was just as chilling. I hope he's doing well too but I know that he has relapsed a few times.