Sunday, February 1, 2009

I am in love with a book

For those of you who know me personally, or those of you who know me through Facebook, this will not come as a new revelation: I am in love with a book, and that book is Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff. I have said this many times and I'll say it again: it is the best book I have ever read. And by that I don't mean that it is a literary masterpiece. But it moved me like no other book ever has. Although Sheff's son, Nic, had a different drug of choice--methamphetamine--the basic story is still one that I am living, and Sheff tells it brilliantly.

My favorite passage from the book is one that has moved me to tears on more than one occasion. As the father of an addict, I can totally relate to these words from David Sheff, although the realization he describes has been incredibly hard for me to come to grips with:

"Like many in my straits, I became addicted to my son's addiction. When it preoccupied me, even at the expense of my responsibilities to my wife and other children, I justified it. I thought, How can a parent not be consumed by his child's life-or-death struggle? But I learned that my preoccupation with Nic didn't help him and may have harmed him. Or maybe it was irrelevant to him. However, it surely harmed the rest of my family--and me. Along with this, I learned another lesson, a soul-shaking one: our children live or die with or without us. No matter what we do, no matter how we agonize or obsess, we cannot choose for our children whether they live or die. It is a devastating realization, but also liberating. I finally chose life for myself. I chose the perilous but essential path that allows me to accept that Nic will decide for himself how--and whether--he will live his life." --from "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff.

I recommend Beautiful Boy to anyone, whether you're the parent of an addict or not. If you read it, I can guarantee three things: 1.) You will love the book. 2.) You will cry. A lot. 3.) You will walk away with a better understanding of what it's like to be the parent of an addict. Trust me: it is one of the most difficult, challenging, and heartbreaking things a person can experience.

By the way, this post was prompted by my purchase of a signed copy of Beautiful Boy off of eBay this morning. Yes, I am in love with a book.

P. S. If you're on Facebook, please check out the group I started there called "Beautiful Boy by David Sheff is a phenomenal book." As of today, at least 44 other people agree with me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in the process of reading your blog. Thank you for the quote from the David Sheff book. Not only is it a hard truth, but it's one I need to repeat to myself as often as necessary to get out of this funk. It's appreciated. As is your wonderful blog. Sometimes it's hard to believe there's actually someone else going through this.