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

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  37,812 Ratings  ·  3,297 Reviews
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
Published February 26th 2008 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published 2007)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I never understood the appeal of meth. It’s made in clandestine labs using an array of chemicals that are flammable and hazardous to your health. The drug is highly addictive and has dangerous side-effects. Your teeth fall out, your jaw collapses, you get those ghastly sores and ulcers, your cheeks become hollow, and your eyes are sunken in. And that’s only on the outside. On the inside, your brain looks like Swiss cheese, you become paranoid, irritable and even violent.
Apr 24, 2008 Marianne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I checked this book out of the library after hearing David Sheff and his son Nick interviewed on NPR. I found this book annoying and unrevealing (for a memoir) and yet I couldn't put it down. David Sheff discusses his own drug use and alludes to his immaturity/commitment issues as a factor in his divorce from Nick's mother which he blames mostly for his son's drug problems, but he never discusses the root of his issues (or even specifically what they were beyond immaturity) or how they affected ...more
Apr 21, 2008 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot better than Tweak. The father is a great writer, and he did a great job making me feel as if I was going through the experience with him. He also presents a lot of research on crystal meth and its effects on users. I changed my rating from a 5 to a 4 after I read Tweak however. After I read Beautiful Boy, I was really freaked out about the accessibility of drugs, and the father made it seem as if everyone in the world will eventually try drugs at least once in their life ...more
Jun 18, 2008 Doneen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book full of numerous examples of how over-idealization of a son by his father can cause as many problems as insufficient attention paid to the child. If you can believe this father, his son was nothing short of the second coming. No wonder the son became a lying, stealing, self-absorbed addict who took multiple rehabs to kick a habit. This is a cautionary tale for parents. Okay, I just re-read what I wrote, and I know it's probably too harsh. But I really believe it's harmful over-ind ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Cathyb53 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gut-wrenching! I read this because I saw the author, David Sheff, talking about it on Oprah, and because I have children close in age to his son; although I was fortunate enough to avoid the hell of parenting an addicted kid, I have been there with many of my friends, and with friends of my kids'.

There's nothing new in this story - the "plot", such as it is, is painfully familiar to so many of us baby-boomers as our own children reached the danger years. The strength of this story is in the aut
Mar 03, 2008 Madison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an addict in the family.
For people close to an addict: Read this book if you have not yet realized that you are not alone.

Obviously I'm aware that I'm not the only person out there with an addict in the family. However after reading this book, I realize that I'm not alone in feeling completely confused, furious, wronged, neglected, saddened, helpless, judged, torn, and exhausted, (not to mention a million other things) when dealing with my always recovering drug addicted sister.

David Sheff represents the wrath of addic
Jun 15, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Finally. I. Am. Done.

I swear this book took me a month to read. Maybe longer. I just could not get into it. I read the companion, Tweak, written by his son, and I thought it would be interesting to hear the other perspective. Blah. What started as an article for The New York Times Magazine, the overwhelming response prompted Sheff to write a whole book. Bad idea. It was obviously stretched beyond it's means, and Sheff often relied on random quotes from movies and songs to fill space. I would rea
Apr 17, 2008 Kerri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who's known an addict; anyone who knows someone who has an addict in their life
Recommended to Kerri by: D bought it, but hasn't read it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars. Hmmm... so close to to four stars. A tough read, an easy read. A father's account of his son's addiction to meth (among other things), but there's so much in here that's familiar to anyone who's known someone addicted to anything. The same things that make me consider this book "just okay" (the repetition of themes, the over-dramaticism, the self-absorption) are the same things that make it so realistic and relatable to anyone who's had with an addict in their lives. He does a good jo ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
So here is a sad, beautiful book about a father who loves his son so much but he was struggling with drug addiction. And he suffered from the guilt of letting his family down. This is in the father's perspective. If you want to read his son's perspective read Tweak.

The main thing to realize when it comes to drug addiction is that it can affect anyone from any background. You don't have to be someone living in a bowery or in a crack house to be an addict. Someone can come from a rich family, or a
Apr 25, 2015 Vicky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books dealing with addiction I've ever read. It makes you feel fear and hope. It makes you laugh and cry. I recommend this book to anyone that loves someone, friend or family that lives with addiction.
I'm struggling with this review. I am making an exception and breaking one of my own rules. In autobiographies/memoirs, I don't like judgmental reviews when someone opens up and lets the world in by telling their story to all who will read it. But this book was so irritating to me.

It felt like the author was looking for complete absolution, when there was none needed. There didn't seem to be any 'self' honesty, but he had no problems pointing out the faults or ill advice of others. He blamed eve
Jul 10, 2009 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What I learned from this book? Well, the rehab/relapse cycle is, uhhh, cyclical, which means that *you probably shouldn't write an interminable chronological account of it*. I've seldom been quite so thrilled for a book to be finished, not least of all because this author is one of the most hideously self-obsessed and self-congratulatory people I've ever had the displeasure to spend way too much virtual time with. Nothing that the addicted son, nor either of his other two children, nor he himsel ...more
Nov 12, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
by David Sheff

This is a memoir of a father's attempts and unfortunately his many failed attempts to help his son Nick kick the habit of his addiction to drugs. I read this with a very heavy heart as time after time Mr. Sheff's attempts to help his beloved son fails. It is a tribute of a father's love which is so profoundly deep, as most parents love for their children is endless. The story is authentic and I could feel Mr. Sheff's hear
Apr 27, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Friends and family of addicts, current and recovered
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 05, 2008 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I was more interested in reading his son's account of the same events, but now that I've read this, I don't think I'm up for it! Actually I honestly don't know what he (the son) would say--after a point, addiction is kind of repetitive, isn't it?--although I'd like to know if he explores the effect his parents' divorce had on him, since I've recently read another book about how traumatic divorce is for children and they're not as "resilient" and "adaptable" as divorced parents would like to thin ...more
Joe Moley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 14, 2008 Leila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of the book was mildly annoying with the more than picture perfect everything. There is a divorcee, but even it is glossed over as if it is just what happens. This portion of the book definitely gave the impression that the author either didn’t want to be completely honest about himself and his life or he was oblivious to the problems he had.

That being said, once you get past the first couple of chapters the book is captivating. The author did an amazing job of telling the story r
Apr 10, 2008 Bobbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a rollercoaster ride of a book. And from page one, you know you're in the hands of a gifted writer. Beautiful Boy gives the father's perspective on a son's downward spiral into drug addiction. For those of us who grew up in a time and place when the the school rebels smoked a few cigarettes in the bathroom, this book is a wake-up call. Crystal meth, Nic Sheff's preferred drug, is a nightmarish concoction that seriously depletes the brain neurotransmitter dopamine and can leave users depr ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Boy is one of the most beautiful yet painful books I have ever read. David Sheff is a professional writer, who bares much of his soul as he writes about the utter shock of discovering his son’s serious drug use and utter addiction, the agonizing guilt he feels, the torturing “what ifs” he ponders, his frustration, his helplessness, his anger, mixed in a seesaw of emotions with the love and pride he has for his son, and the fear…the horrible ever=present fear that the next phone call wi ...more
Apr 27, 2011 Abbey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: burn this book to ashes, then burn the ashes.
I want to light this book on fire, then stab out the chunks of my brain that remember this book.

David Sheff's emotional illiteracy is astounding. Case in point: at some point after Nic has his 32587th relapse, David and Jasper go for a hike together. Here is a perfect opportunity for a father to talk about some really important and scary events with his youngest son, and instead the conversation goes like this:

David: -manly silence-
Jasper: "You're worried about Nic, aren't you?"
David: "Yeah."
Apr 01, 2009 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Sunil*: I came back in here to 'edit' my *STARS*.....(you gave it 4): Pretty high for you, too!

I'll always give this book a *5*! I admire David for writing it. (you know 'our' daughter was sick for years .....different ...yet the same in ways) ---

We even had some connection with David ----(but that is besides the point) ---

I felt the book contributed 'BETTER' than MOST to what ANY parent goes through --- (it hard so much fricken heart ---it was painful).

ok.....I've got things to do ---I wrote t
Dawn Critchfield
If you pick up this book, I hope you're not in this "boat." If sadly, you are, then hold on tight as David Sheff expertly steers you through the tragically violent storm of drug abuse. Sheff throws families going through this hell a life jacket, and let's you know that you are not alone in this turbulent ocean of drug addiction and grief. Excellent read!
Jun 06, 2012 Crystal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm currently on chapter 13, page 152. I wanted to share a few things that stuck out to me.
Page 98 & 99
"A specialist on child development tells me that children’s brains are at the most malleable---that is, the greatest change takes place---before they are two years old and then again when they are teenagers. ‘The worst time for a person to be tampering with their brains is when they are teenagers;’ she says ‘drugs radically alter the way teenagers’ brains develop.’ As she explains it, exper
Jun 24, 2008 Mandi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book for me is between 3 and 4 stars. I did like it but not as much as I hoped I guess. I thought the authors style of writing was too rigid I guess- or just too "perfect" and for me that made it lose some of the personal/emotional element that was necessary for the book. Also - the book was just all in all very repetitive - story of his life - in rehab out of rehab in rehab out of rehab - blah blah. :) It definitely had some good points in it though that were thought-provoking on addiction ...more
Feb 28, 2008 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to steel myself to read this one, which has been on my to-read list for years. I, like so many other people out there, have lost someone to addiction. My brother Michael, who was an alcoholic, died in 2007 at just age 39. Even though his death came as a shock, and was technically the cause of a medical issue, those of us who love him feel he would still be with us today if it hadn't been for his alcoholism.
No matter how many things I have read in the past that deal with this issue, it stil
Apr 23, 2008 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by one of my favorite book critics!
What a horrifying story, having to watch your child deal with a meth addiction. Every time I opened it, it was like being stabbed in the heart multiple times because as a mother you feel so much sympathy for any parent who has to go through something like that. It was interesting how the author talks about how not only was his son addicted to meth, but that he himself became "addicted" to his son's addiction, to where it was all-consuming and encom
Apr 11, 2008 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008april
I grew up around meth users, so I was particularly interested to see the trend from the outside: A famous-in-his-own-world dad chronicling the tragedy of his son's addiction.

It's safe to say their lifestyle was a tad different from the one I knew. But it was no less horrifying.

Though criticized for bringing "nothing new" to the addiction genre, I liked viewing the story from the dad's perspective. He never quite got all that was going on, and yes, he put himself front and center in his son's dra
Jun 18, 2008 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone trying to amke sense of drug addiction and relationships
Recommended to Linda by: review
Shelves: non-fiction
I was reluctant to read this book after reading reviews. I was worried it would be too painful, having had first hand experience with the subject matter and still suffering from post-traumatic stress from the ordeal. But it was actually a sense of relief realizing that horrible situations come up often in families. Morbid thought process, isn't it? It gave me a better understanding of the dynamics between parents and kids dealing with severe drug addiction. It eased wounds that are still raw, an ...more
Linda Sexauer
Aug 08, 2008 Linda Sexauer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
This was a great book! Sheff has gone through a horrible time with his son's addiction. But this book is much more than a tell-all. It is deeply searching, both inwardly and outwardly. It is about the grieving process, about love, about commitment, about allowing yourself to be in pain to arrive at a better place. This book has a lot to offer. And for me, as a mother of four, it is a wake-up call to be diligent and passionate about keeping my kids educated about and away from drugs as much as I ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Jake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I loved it! The story was so eye-opening and I've never read anything like this before. I really felt for both Nic and David and the story dug at my emotions at some points. If you are interested about learning more about addiction, definitely pick this up!
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David Sheff is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Beautiful Boy. Sheff's other 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 ongoing research and reporting on the science of addiction earned him a place on Time Magazine's list of the Wor ...more
More about David Sheff...

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“In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain wrote, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." He was quoting a Neil Young song about Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. When I was twenty-four, I interviewed John Lennon. I asked him about this sentiment, one that pervades rock and roll. He took strong, outraged exception to it. "It's better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out, " he said. "I worship people who survive. I'll take the living and the healthy.” 188 likes
“An alcoholic will steal your wallet and lie to you. A drug addict will steal your wallet and then help you look for it.” 78 likes
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