BOOKS: Beautiful Boy (David Sheff) and Tweak (Nic Sheff)

These two memoirs, the first written by the father of the author of the second, offer a unique look inside the world of methamphetamine addiction. When his son Nic became a meth addict, David’s primary mechanism for coping was gathering information. As a non-fiction writer/journalist, it was only natural that that information, along with stories of his experiences as the father of an addict, would be woven together into a book.

Beautiful Boy doesn’t just offer up stories from the parents’ perspective, though. It is also packed with information about both methamphetamine and addiction in general. As David sends Nic to rehab and back again, over and over, we also get a taste of the various philosophies of treatment (12-step, rational recovery, etc.), as well as advice and research information from some of today’s top addiction experts (Richard Rawson, Nora Volkow, e.g.).

The informational aspects of this book will expand your mind; the personal stories will break your heart. Not a bad way to spend a weekend on the couch, all told.

While David was working on BB, his publishers came calling for Nic’s story as well. Tweak tells the same tale, but from the addict’s point of view. It gives us some insight into just what drives an addict to keep returning to their drug of choice, no matter how much they might desperately want to quit, and also offers up the perspective of a troubled teenager trying to contend with parents who keep forcing him into rehab before he’s ready.

Tweak is, however, written by a kid (well, he’s in his early 20’s, anyway), and it pretty much reads like you’d imagine. Nic occasionally turns a profound phrase, but this book by itself would probably have gone relatively unnoticed. In combination with his father’s extremely well-written book, however, Tweak takes on added significance. It’s a unique pairing, and one nobody who is interested in methamphetamine or other types of addiction should miss. All in all, a fascinating, educational, and emotional pairing. Highly recommended!


[buy BB | buy Tweak | read more book reviews | search the book reviews]

6 Responses to “BOOKS: Beautiful Boy (David Sheff) and Tweak (Nic Sheff)”

  1. Marni Says:

    Saw these two on the Today show a year or so ago & thought this sounded interesting! Good job, ADAI librarian!

  2. megwood Says:

    Thanks! After I read them, I donated them to the ADAI Library! 🙂 I will definitely be recommending both books to college kids and counselors-in-training who come in looking for information about meth.

  3. Lizzie Says:

    These books do sound interesting. I wish I were “better” about reading this kind of stuff (I mostly go for fantasy, sci-fi, and especially, horror!) But, Meg, I’m glad you call attention to these books, so even if I don’t read them, I’ve at least heard about them, if they get mentioned, or I find a write-up somewhere. BTW, those sound like great ideas for recommendations.

  4. Jack Says:

    I heard an interview by our local dj with Mr. Sheff and thought he had been living in our house. My wife and I are going through it with her son. We bought the book and CD’s. I can’t put it down since I’m deeply involved in the same process he went through with his son. I highly recommend it. My son is reading Tweak but will sit down with us and listen to the CD’s authenticating the information. He is in his third recovery program
    Get it and read it!! I can’t wait till the movie comes out.

  5. megwood Says:

    Thanks for sharing your personal story here, Jack! I wish you and your wife and son the best. Good luck, and hang in there!

  6. susan Says:

    David, after a ten year rollercoaster ride with my addicted son, whom I love and adore, I came home early from work, turned on Oprah, and there you and Nic were. I thought, “Am I strong enough to watch this, I don’t want to cry anymore”. But your story quickly drew me in as I immediately discovered I wasn’t alone. Currently, my son is in a 90 day observation in an isolated section of a state prison. “Prison?” My husband and I are still trying to put that word into perspective. Where does it fit in our lives with our other two children who are healthy and well balanced. After two years of doing well, so we thought, a routine traffic stop found him with meth under the passenger seat. And here we are. I was particularly drawn to your description of being “consumed” by your sons struggles. I don’t sleep. I have unbelieveable memories of his childhood happiness. I can’t pray, though I’m learning that it’s better with God then without. I’m anxious to read both books. Thank you for writing. Susan

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