Monday, August 11, 2008

"beautiful boy" by David Sheff

Having just read a book given to me as a gift from daughter, Sarah, the question coming to mind prior to reading it, was "why this book?" The title was enough to put me off and ponder why Sarah thought that I would choose to review an addiction story, as if the ones that I know "up close and personal" aren't informative enough?

The book (that I now recommend) is "beautiful boy - a father's journey through his son's addiction." The book is, as its title states, a father's journey, etc. It is a painfully, poignantly written recollection of a perfectly normal, beautiful child, ascending into the world of drugs pulling the family sans drugs, into the bottomless chasm of his addiction to methamphetamines.

I found the likelihood of enjoying this book slim as, regrettably, I have too many friends, family and relations who could have written this book almost to the such would-be author, having referred more than once to her addict son, as her "beautiful boy." But surprisingly, once I did pick up this book and begin to read it, I find it hard to put down for several days.

Right from the beginning, I was spellbound with the personalization of the facts. The facts that to those outside a family's inner circle might seem contrived or possibly exaggerated as to "what's really happening" in the life of a family with an addicted member. As I came upon the all too-familiar scenes and stories I've personally experienced, my mind kept nodding, yes, yes and questioning how does/did this happen and why can't we/they "fix" it?!

The addiction facts are there. The addicts' stories, lies, promises, recovery, relapses have a familiar ring to them. The pain, the hurt, the blame, the guilt, the sorrow - shared like stones splashing and rippling through still pond water - no caring family member or interested bystander is spared from "getting wet"!

In recommending this book, I would share my personal sense of release found in the reading - release from the burden of guilt, unduly taken on by we/us the parents, friends, and families. The assurance that we/they are not wrong in wanting to offer our/their family member comfort, aid, love, even cash, etc. but reminding ourselves/them as all good Al-Anon (Al-Anon here encompassing all addiction support groups) literature and counseling will advise, the addict must "fix" themselves. We cannot do it for them. We cannot hasten the addicts' recovery because we find a better method, or that we have better ears to listen or better words to offer than does the immediate family. The addict may briefly retreat and bathe in the promises of an outsider but the fact remains no repair is complete until the addict decides to enter into, endure, and begin to grow into their own life and the living of it.

This book sends a powerful message to addicts and their life circle of family, friends, and acquaintances. I recommend it. I know some of you reading these comments will relate to them. Thank you Sarah.


  1. I really loved this book...perhaps because it hit close to home in many ways. I'm glad you took the time to read it as I am sure it was all to familiar to you as well...

  2. I was so surprised that the book turned into such a wonderful read for me and thank you again for sending it. It really gave me permission to let go of some anxiety - that of regret and guilt - that I should have or could have done "more."