David Sheff shares the heart-breaking story of his son Nic’s tenuous life on drugs. Interwoven in the story are the results of research and studies about kids from shared custody homes, the affects of drugs (especially Methamphetamine) on the human body and psyche, and advice from a variety of sources for friends and families of addicts. Beautiful Boy especially resonates with me, as Sheff searches for answers as to how this could have happened to his son and in what ways he might be responsible. As a single mom, I was able to identify sobering parallels between his family situation and my own. The most powerful aspect of the book, no wait…there are too many powerful aspects to single out one as the most. The letters he has received over the years from people who have been touched by addiction are absolutely heart-wrenching. And the letters he has received over the years from those who have not been personally touched by addiction are equally heart-wrenching, although for different reasons.
Sheff’s shared experiences with Nic in rehab, his own efforts at healing in al-anon and counseling, and the effort he must put forth in keeping the rest of his family in-tact and healthy are overwhelming. Sheff does a brilliant job of explaining why an addict can’t “just stop taking drugs” and effectively illustrates how pervasively an addict’s behavior affects not just family, but friends and neighbors as well. According to Nic’s last blog entry on November 8th, 2008 he is drug free and starting school. I neither know, nor will ever know Nic Sheff: yet I can’t help wonder if he is alive and well. I hope so.