Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
I'm a sucker for a good drug redemption story. It's why I loooooove me some Intervention (although how those people don't realize in Year Ten that it's not just an innocent documentary to chronicle their addiction, I'll never understand. Cocaine is a hell of a drug... or so I've heard!) So when I came across this book at my library's annual book sale, I knew I'd be leaving with it.
Generally, I dislike books written in present tense. It usually feels like the device of someone who doesn't write well. It oddly cloaks the lack of skill and artistry with words with a sense of urgency. However, David Sheff used present tense in a supremely artful way. Dealing with a family member struggling with addiction necessitates immediacy. Sheff used his language as a way to bring the reader deep into the story of his family. And for people who have never had to deal with the disease of addiction before, I believe this granted the reader some much needed empathy and perspective.
Sheff doesn't try to separate himself from the reality of his life. He dove headfirst into some of the most painful memories of his life and told us his story with an incredible honesty. And his updates really spoke to the incipid nature of addiction. There's no pretty little bow tied up after a few stints at rehab. Nic will always be battling this demon. And David saying he thought he would end the book with a successful recovery but had to come back to share that Nic had relapsed once again... that makes clear the constant state of fear in which an addict and his loved ones have to live.
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.