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

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  57,060 ratings  ·  5,172 reviews
With a new afterword

Now a Major Motion Picture

What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and
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Paperback, media tie-in, 340 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Eamon Dolan/Mariner Books (first published 2007)
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David
David - author, advocate, father

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David Hi Ellen- Yes, my son wrote two books about his experience: Tweak and We All Fall Down.…moreHi Ellen- Yes, my son wrote two books about his experience: Tweak and We All Fall Down. (less)
Joyce Dunklee I am reading it now and feel like I'm living it with this father. I don't know whether or not you have to be a parent to be moved by it, but I feel…moreI am reading it now and feel like I'm living it with this father. I don't know whether or not you have to be a parent to be moved by it, but I feel his pain.
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Nancy
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.
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Marianne
Apr 24, 2008 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
Mary Deacon
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Sheff didn't miss a single experience of having a drug-addicted son. He seconds guesses himself repeatedly. David reads about it, asks questions, studies new and old treatment, loses sleep, abandons himself of loved ones, sets apart his life over and over again. David is depressed. He makes himself physically sick. He can't turn to God. Sheff didn't miss a fucking beat. I've had this book for a year before I could bring myself to read it. I regret putting it off so long.
Maria Espadinha
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Battle


Beautiful Boy is a non-fiction story about a fight: a desperate father and a doped son embarked in a battle against methamphetamine.
The refered battle could have been shorter if father and son didn’t waste so much time battling each other instead of acting as a team towards the devilish meth
Not that they were kicking nor biting one another, but there are other ways of fighting, like when a guy does one thing, whilst the other does exactly the opposite, which was definitely the
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Doneen
Jun 18, 2008 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 ...more
Jen
Apr 21, 2008 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
Caroline
***NO SPOILERS***

This is so much more than a straightforward memoir about a father struggling to save his drug-addicted son. Most strikingly, it’s a heart-rending testament to the unconditional and powerful love a parent has for a child. I was deeply moved by Beautiful Boy and know I’ll never forget it.

The account is made even more tragic by how journalist David Sheff set up the narrative. He started from the very beginning, when his beloved son, Nic, was born, showing well how this
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Jennifer
3.5 Stars
Beautiful Boy is a memoir written by David Sheff about his experiences as he tried to save his teenage son from drug addiction. Beautiful Boy was an incredibly informative reading experience for me personally. This book may do a better job at capturing the attention of readers who are parents themselves or have a family member or friend who suffers from addiction. The emotional toll addiction takes on loved ones was documented well and provides a wealth of perspective and information.
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Corinna
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This family has incredible moxie, man. The strength it would take to throw your mess out to the wolves hoping it could help a few lost sheep is awesome. Not to mention, the father and son both did it. I love that. The juxtaposition between the two books is amazing.

I see a lot of mixed reviews on this. Some people are pretty condemning towards David's failures as a father. Some people completely lack empathy towards Nic. I understand the difficulty they have, but until addiction hits you an a
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Suzanne
Jun 15, 2008 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
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Malia
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Oh boy, this was not an easy book to read, but I won't be quick to forget it either. Sheff tells a moving, though deeply unsettling account of his son's drug addiction, how he as a father coped with it, and how it affected his family. I'll need a while to really digest Beautiful Boy, but I do want to read the son's account, (Tweak by Nic Sheff), to try to understand the experience from his view. The point Sheff got across was just how hard it is to help someone with addiction, how draining it is ...more
Abbey
Apr 27, 2011 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."
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Tayari Jones
The writing was good, but I couldn't stop thinking that rich people are very lucky. Thier kids can be drug addicts and not go to jail. It would have been better if the author had really acknowledged that.
Cathyb53
Jun 16, 2008 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
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Madison
Mar 03, 2008 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
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Anne ✨
The recently released movie, Beautiful Boy, is based on a pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff that chronicle, from each of their points of view, the heartbreaking experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.

The father shares his perspective in this book, Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction, while the son's book is Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines

I read the father's book first, rating it 4*, and
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Elyse  Walters
Apr 01, 2009 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
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Diane
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
I was so engrossed in this memoir. It is the story of a father watching his child destroy himself and the havoc that wreaks on the family he comes from. Not my story but close enough. So much of his horrifying journey struck a chord or a memory. During teen years, the somewhat innocent experimentation/desire to feel differently mindset that teens get involved in can take them on a roller-coaster addiction cycle from which it is hard to break free. I feel for all of these ‘beautiful children’ and ...more
Mark
Jul 10, 2009 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 ...more
Kerri
Apr 17, 2008 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 ...more
Bark
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a grueling and sad account of a family torn apart when a beloved son with a promising future becomes addicted to alcohol and meth (one of the worst of all drugs because it permanently alters your brain). I read this after watching the grueling and heartbreaking movie of the same name. I am again filled with sadness for all of them. Why did I do this to myself?! Now I'm off to listen to the son's account because I crave more torture, apparently.
Kyle
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I’m bitter about it. I know. It’s shitty of me to say these things, but my initial positive reaction to this book is hampered by the fact that it’s essentially about a severely addicted individual, who grew up in, and has maintained even after sobriety, a life of privilege. Drug and alcohol addiction is an un-biased monster. It affects all walks of life. I know this. It’s just, to be frank, irritating to hear about a young white male of high socioeconomic standing, manage to be so thoroughly ...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
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Bookworm
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.25 stars
What a fascinating and emotional journey this book was!!! As a parent with teenagers, I found David Sheff's words to be impactful and thought-provoking. Every parent's worst nightmare is to lose a child - drug addiction is essentially that. One's child is essentially gone and the disease takes their place. The incessant worrying and attempts to control your child's addiction hit a chord for me.

David does a wonderful job sharing his experience as a parent. What he felt, thought,
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Donna
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
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Vicky
Apr 25, 2015 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.
Liza Fireman
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so painful, and so hard to read as a parent. David Sheff wrote a book about his son Nic, and about the period when he was addict to Crystal Meth. An addiction the ruins the body, the brain, and the relationships in the house.
The addiction took over Nic, and it also took over David and his wife Karen, and his two little siblings, Daisy and Jasper. Nic lost everything he had, he was a bright young man that could not resist drugs, and he gave his life to this addiction starting a very
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aPriL does feral sometimes
‘Beautiful Boy’ is an insider's memoir written by a grieving anxious father, David Sheff, about his and his family's life with an adult son, Nic, who is an addict currently in recovery - again. I think it is as honest of a book as a person can be about himself. No doubt it cannot reflect complete truth - who of us can see all of ourselves and our loved ones at all times? But whatever confusions, and perhaps the few self-protective instances of skewing the remembered introspection or personal ...more
Connie G
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Journalist David Sheff wrote a heartbreaking memoir about the roller coaster ride of his son's meth addiction, rehab, periods of recovery, and relapses. Nic Sheff was in high school when he first tried marijuana, but he soon moved on to alcohol and hard drugs. The intelligent, talented boy turned into a shell of his former self.

As a father David asked questions of himself, wondering if he was partly to blame for his son's addiction. David had experimented with drugs in college. He felt
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Valentina
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"But you know, I don't think I will be so scared to die.
I think it's like today: the end of a vacation when you are ready to go home."


Although beautiful, I found this book in need of a few more rounds of editing, trimming, and maybe shortening of some parts I thought too repetitive. Apart from that, I felt a deep connection with Nic, his traits and actions reminding me a lot of someone I hold very dear. As illuminating as it was to read though a father's perspective, I soon realised it's
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521 followers
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 ...more
“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.” 214 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.” 95 likes
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