Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

WOW is all I have to say. I thought this book was a joy to read as well as very interesting. I finished the book within two days, and continued by reading the sons book Tweak by Nic Sheff. I think David Sheff did a wonderful job in bringing to life his story about his sons addiction. He frequently questioned himself throughout the novel, yet by the end it seemed as if he learned the painstaking reality that he can not choose what his son chooses for himself. He can wish and hope his son chooses a life that is fulfilling and filled with happiness, but he cannot force this upon him. It seems as though David's hardest thing to cope with was the control of his son's life. He felt he did was he could as a father to provide the necessary tools for a successful life, and he see's his sons addiction to meth as a way of throwing that away. Along with this, I think David feels like he has failed his son in many ways, whether it was the divorce or for causing him to constantly shift from his family during the year, to his mothers over the summer.

One of the most heart wrenching things is the impact his sons addiction had on his life, along with the rest of the family. There were some parts where I could completely empathize with the father. Here he was giving his son so many chances, as I am sure most parents would do, yet each time he was disappointed. Although you root for Nic to get better and overcome his addiction, I felt as if he was very selfish for putting his own needs before anyone else. He would leave for days at a time leaving his family in a panic, while he was carefree. I think David's story was one of a quest because he slowly comes to the realization that he needs to do what's best for himself and the rest of his family, and Nic can choose which life he chooses to live. Although this is very difficult for him, I think he is doing the appropriate thing. It makes me wonder if Jasper and Daisy will grow up and resent their brother for causing so much strife within the family? Will they resent the missed personal time with their parents because they were busy dealing with Nic? Although David touches on the notion that Nic was forbidden to see Jasper and Daisy while he was relapsing, I still feel as though they would have missed out on some things because of their brothers addiction. The one part that made me somewhat emotional was when Nic gave Jasper a letter saying how he was sorry and that " I will be here for you. I will live, and build a life, and be someone that you can depend on" (p. 233). Again he relapsed again...

Another interesting thing is how David always managed to stick up for Nic. He insisted that the Nic off of drugs was not the same Nic who was on drugs. But when I read Nic's book, ironically, he thought the complete opposite. He felt like no one when he wasn't on drugs, and when he took drugs he felt important and carefree. He felt like a completely different person, and although he liked some parts of his life when he was off drugs, he insisted that it was too hard, and he felt too empty to not have drugs. It was more than just the addiction to drugs and the high, but he felt that drugs filled a void. It makes me wonder where exactly this void originated from. Maybe from the divorce? Maybe from his two homes? It's hard to say though. He did well in school, he attended Berkely for at least a year and seemed like an overall good kid. It was sad to think that the father blamed himself somewhat for his sons addiction. He either believed it was caused from a situation that he produced or it was derived from his own experimentation from when he was younger.

The best part about the two books, was how, whether on purpose or accidental, the stories fit together like a puzzle piece. The fathers story layed out the framework for Nic's childhood and his divorce. The father also would speak of days in which Nic was gone for days at a time. Nic's book filled in those gaps. He mentions what he did during those days he was gone. It's amazing how much a drug can effect someones life. He prostituted his body for money. He tried stealing items from his families homes. He was completely desperate and vulnerable. He had a near death experience, yet says how he would wake up from blacking out and do more drugs. Along with that, it is also amazing to see how much a body can handle. The father even mentions a time when he found a journal entry listing a typical days worth of drugs: 1.5 grams speed, 1/8 oz of mushrooms, 2 klonopin, 3 codeine, 2 valium, and 2 hits of e. It's astonishing.

Overall I thought both books were amazing. I read both very intently and quickly. I have even recommended them to my friends and family because I thought they were so good.

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