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To Sheff, the early signs of his son's troubles were subtle: a small amount of marijuana found in his backpack, a somewhat surly attitude, apathetic new friends. Worrisome, to be sure, but also easily excused by a parent who'd dabbled in drugs in his own adolescence. Yet by the time he was in eighth grade, Sheff's son, Nic, had already begun a hellish descent that would lead to a full-blown meth addiction. And as Sheff ably shows in his new memoir, it's a hell big enough to house those who love him as well.
In Beautiful Boy, Sheff captures the dashed hopes and repeated despair of parenting an all-but-lost addict. He explores rehab programs and consults professionals, often coming away with contradictory advice or recommendations bordering on the hopeless. He panics when Nic disappears for days on end. And he realizes that his consuming worry is compromising his relationships with his wife and two younger children.
A tireless researcher, Sheff also provides information about manufacturing "meth" and describes the various philosophies and approaches of the top rehab facilities. Perhaps most compelling is Sheff's merciless self-examination. While he admits mistakes, we ultimately realize that Nic's upbringing was not particularly unusual -- which leads to the terrifying thought that Sheff's story could one day be our own. (Summer 2008 Selection)