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

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  65,324 ratings  ·  5,746 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 340 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by 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.
Connie I have read it several times. It is the most beautifully written book about a fathers love and hope and courage for his son. I have also seen the movi…moreI have read it several times. It is the most beautifully written book about a fathers love and hope and courage for his son. I have also seen the movie. I enjoyed the book much more. There are just things that can't come across in a movie that can come across with words. I also highly recommend reading his sons book. Both will move you in ways you have never imagined.(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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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.
...more
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.
...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
What I pictured the entire time I was reading this flaming hot turd . . . .



Nothing like being a privileged white condescending jackass/total enabler who spends his kid’s formative years bragging about his own drug use and then remains in a constant state of denial about how fucked his kid is for eternity. And even better – the kid apparently needed fucking PSYCHIATRIC HELP HIS ENTIRE GODDAMN LIFE, but was never taken to anything but a therapist (who was another piece of shit and only offere
...more
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 over-ind ...more
Maria Espadinha
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 case
...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 all-America
...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
Cori
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 per
...more
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 rea
...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."
...more
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
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. ...more
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. T
...more
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 addic
...more
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 aut
...more
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 t
...more
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
...more
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 himsel ...more
Kyle
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 pri ...more
Bark  |  Ladies Of Horror Fiction
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. ...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 jo ...more
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 eve
...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
...more
Liza Fireman
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
...more
Bookworm
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, exper
...more
bee  ❤︎
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
four stars ∗ tw/ mentions of drugs/addiction.

this was absolutely heartbreaking. i knew it would be before going into it, but i didn’t imagine that i would be crying like a baby after reading the last half of the book. it was mentioned numerous times how all of the stories dealing with drug addicts are essentially the same - they have the same pain, same heartache, same desperation. some have happy endings, while others do not. i never realized how true that was until i read this. currently, my
...more
Valentina
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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 equall
...more
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. ...more
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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

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Let's talk books, shall we? As you can imagine, Goodreads editors are voracious readers and there's nothing we like more than talking shop....
45 likes · 25 comments
“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.” 216 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.” 104 likes
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