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

David Sheff
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (713 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, February 2008: From as early as grade school, the world seemed to be on Nic Sheff's string. Bright and athletic, he excelled in any setting and appeared destined for greatness. Yet as childhood exuberance faded into teenage angst, the precocious boy found himself going down a much different path. Seduced by the illicit world of drugs and alcohol, he quickly found himself caught in the clutches of addiction. Beautiful Boy is Nic's story, but from the perspective of his father, David. Achingly honest, it chronicles the betrayal, pain, and terrifying question marks that haunt the loved ones of an addict. Many respond to addiction with a painful oath of silence, but David Sheff opens up personal wounds to reinforce that it is a disease, and must be treated as such. Most importantly, his journey provides those in similar situations with a commodity that they can never lose: hope --Dave Callanan

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 709 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0618683356
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,541 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
192 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Moving Parental Memoir February 26, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a stunningly written, intense and emotional memoir of a father's struggle to deal with his brilliant, charismatic, and caring son's addiction to methamphetamine. It is honest and authentic and raw and heart-rending and fascinating. It is unforgettable. As I read, I felt many emotions for both the father and son---everything from anger to sadness to grief to fear. I felt as though I was right there on the emotional roller coaster with the author.

Even if you have no personal experience of a loved one's addiction, you will be moved by this father's struggle to cope with his son's substance abuse turmoils. Despite methamphetamine being this country's most problematic drug, many of us, including me, know very little about it, and may not initially feel too interested in finding out. However, the author's struggles and emotional journey are so poignant and compelling that any reader will find themselves caught up in this memoir, will benefit from what they learn and most of all, will be glad that they read it. If you know and/or love an addict, this book will be even more important---it will be vital---as you will find much to identify with and perhaps even be able to better process some of your own emotions.

Highly recommended.
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116 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible, incredible book May 27, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Being that I'm currently going through much the same thing that David Sheff went through--albeit on a smaller scale (if there is such a thing as a "smaller scale" of addiction when your own kid is the addict)--Beautiful Boy made me cry like a baby many, many times. I'm sure if you read it, it will affect you, too. So many of the thoughts the dad has are dead on with what I've experienced over the last four years. And the realization that he finally came to--that one way or another, your child will live or die with or without you, and it's really out of your control, so you have to let go of it--is the one thing that I just haven't been able to get my arms around yet. I totally understand what he's saying. But letting go is so, so, so hard. I get daily updates from my kid's counselor at rehab (my son signed a full disclosure agreement). And I cry after reading them. I never in a million years thought that I'd have an addict for a son who would be in rehab 360 miles away from home at age 18. It's tough. To everyone who is reading this review and has a younger child: Talk to them about drugs. Talk about the dangers, talk about alternatives to self-medication, etc. You do NOT want to go through what David Sheff went through and what my wife and I are going through and have gone through for 4+ years. You'll just have to trust me on that one. Kudos to Mr. Sheff for writing one of the best books I've ever read. I wish nothing but the best for him and his son, Nic.
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106 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and redemptive February 26, 2008
As a parent, I was transfixed by this harrowing story of a charming, intelligent boy's addiction and what it does to his family. You instantly like the boy, Nic Sheff, yet you can feel the father's pain.

The drug problems begin when author David Sheff finds a bag of marijuana in his 12-year-old's backpack. By age 17 Nic is hooked on crystal meth, and he spirals into a decade-long pattern of drug abuse. He lies, steals, lives on the street and nearly dies. His heartbroken family takes the journey with him.

At the end, with Nic in a shaky recovery, David Sheff has a life-changing moment when he realizes that "my children will live with or without me. It is a staggering realization for a parent, but one that ultimately frees us to let our children grow up."

Sheff has good practical advice in this book, starting and ending with talking with your child early and often about drugs. There is also a huge amount of information about methamphetamines and how dangerous and pervasive their abuse is in this country. I learned a lot of scary information in this book, and I'm sure it will be a lifesaver for many.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes terrific - sometimes tedious August 19, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
David Sheff's account of his son's journey into addiction was both interesting and eye-opening. I learned a lot I didn't know and no longer look at drug addiction the same way. However, much of the book is filled with tedious repetition or dull stories of how normal Nic once was. I doesn't take 5 pages out of each chapter to make the case that Nic was a normal, good kid. These are sweet stories, but after a while I found myself skimming through multiple pages of each chapter. Also, I liked hearing about David's internal battles with himself over did he do the right thing, should he believe Nic, should he bail him out, was an intervention the right way to go, etc. etc. But it just went on for far too long.

Good book, great insight, but could have edited out 20% to make it great.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo! March 16, 2008
As someone who is in recovery for crystal meth addiction, I highly recommend this book to those with addiction issues, their family members and to addiction specialists. David Sheff's insight into the disease of addiction and particularly the insidious nature of crystal meth is pitch perfect. I would also like to add that I attribute any "success" to my recovery process to having done many of the "best practices" outlined in his meticulous research of treatment options. I don't think I would have made it (thus far) if I had not gone to a treatment center with a specialized program for crystal meth (using the Matrix) which lasted for more than 4 months. I also went directly from there to a 2-year recovery home where I still reside. As Sheff has learned and written so eloquently, recovery (both for addicts and their families) is a process not an event, and it never ends.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
for school
Published 1 day ago by Tamara Winschel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great detail. The author describes his story perfectly. Like a story. Very well written.
Published 2 days ago by Shelley Glenn
THis story of a father's love for a son provides a vivid and realistic view of drug and alcohol addiction. The impact on the entire family is well described. Read more
Published 3 days ago by I L. Gifford
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book if you are going through addiction with your ...
The best book if you are going through addiction with your child. Everything I felt, thought, went through - Sheff has gone through it too with his son. Read more
Published 6 days ago by M. Boucher
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read!!!
Addicts are bad. They hurt themselves and others. They are selfish. This book will change your mind. I felt for the addict. I felt for the family. I couldn't get enough! Read more
Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Talk about a Cautionary Tale
This book was annoying yet interesting. I wanted Nic to be well and was pulling for him until he kept repeating his lethal behavior. Read more
Published 11 days ago by V. P.
5.0 out of 5 stars ... books I would give to anyone who has a loved one dealing with...
This is one of two books I would give to anyone who has a loved one dealing with addiction. (The other one is David Sheff's book, Clean. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Elaine
5.0 out of 5 stars so so sad, and I know people actually going thru this ...
so so sad, and I know people actually going thru this with their children. Addiction is a serious diseases constant struggle.
Published 13 days ago by Laurath
5.0 out of 5 stars Family dealing with addiction.
This book takes you into the life of a family dealing with drug addiction. It really opened my eyes to how hard it is for the addict to quit. Read more
Published 18 days ago by DonnaB
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Prompt Shipping, Quality product as described.
Published 28 days ago by Christopher S. Lokken
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More About the Author

DAVID SHEFF's books include Game Over, China Dawn, and All We Are Saying. His many articles and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Wired, Fortune, and elsewhere. His piece for the New York Times Magazine, My Addicted Son, won an award from the American Psychological Association for Outstanding Contribution to Advancing the Understanding of Addiction. It led to his #1 New York Times Best Seller, Beautiful Boy, which was named the best nonfiction book of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. Beautiful Boy was also an Amazon Best Book of 2008. Sheff and his family live in Inverness, California.

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