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Book Review: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

This is not a new book, but has recently regained some hype since the release of the Amazon movie adaption. The book centres around a father’s story of his son’s drug addiction. As someone who has been personally affected by the devastation a sibling’s addiction can cause, this book meant so much to me – it was a reminder that you are not alone.

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Genre: Memoir

BUG Rating: 4/5

Overall: I really loved this book. David goes on a journey of self-blame, fear, desperation, pain and grief as he navigates the world of drug addiction in a desperate attempt to help his son. He lays himself bare, with such raw emotion as he describes watching your child destroy their life and you have to stand back, practically helpless. There wasn’t anything I was actually surprised about in this book, which actually surprised me – everything rang true. I really wanted to her David discuss more about his own issues, and given his family’s history, his father dying of alcoholism, how that affected him/his parenting style, were there warning signs? I also wanted to hear more about how Nic’s addiction impacted his siblings and their relationships with both David/Nic. I’m really curious to read Nic’s side of the story – he’s released his own memoirs, so I will probably add those to my TBR, and of course watch the movie adaption!

Caring about an addict is as complex and fraught and debilitating as addiction itself.


‘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.

With haunting candour, David Sheff traces the first subtle warning signs: the denial, the 3am phone calls (is it Nic? the police? the hospital?), the attempts at rehab. 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. This 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. 

Beautiful Boy is a fiercely candid memoir that brings immediacy to the emotional rollercoaster of loving a child who seems beyond help. 

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