Friday, September 6, 2013

Literature Analysis #1 Beautiful Boy

 Beautiful Boy by David Sheff tells the story of what a father had to go through along with his son's addiction to drugs, in this case meth and heroine. From sun up to sun down David was continuously worrying about his son and if he would live to see tomorrow. This kind of stress eventually started to deteriorate David's mental and physical state thus taking away from his other 2 kids Jasper and Daisy whom he had with his new wife.
   David Sheff decided to write this book because he claimed "I just had to sit down and write, all of this happened so fast I didn't know what to do. I was watching my oldest son Nik slowly kill himself through the constant use of drugs and other illegal activity. I felt so helpless at the time because I blamed myself, I thought I wasn't a good father to him growing up, what could I have done differently was the biggest question I just couldn't find an answer to." Sheff felt obligated to write this book for he knew that there were many parents out there dealing with similar and or the same nightmares of losing their children to drugs, he needed to reach out to these people. 
   The reason why I chose to read this book was because I wanted to be able to understand the thoughts and feelings that run through a worried parents' head when their child has gone missing for days at a time. I wanted to be able to understand what I myself had put my own mother through when I used to use daily. I remember I saw my mom reading this book the same time I would come home loaded. At the time she would tell me little facts about the book here and there although I didn't care much to listen to what she had to say, I hated reading anything back then. It was about a year ago when I read this book for the first time and I couldn't put it down for it was so fascinating to me. Everything about the book, the setting, the real life events that this man had to go through for his son all just caught my attention. Everything Sheff described about his family was a perfect match as to what my own family was going through. I genuinely felt that after reading this book I could relate 100 %. When living in Utah at the time I had nothing better to do than read so I read Tweak by Nik Sheff whom is David Sheff's son and this by far made me really feel like I could change if I wanted to, it all was so inspiring to me.
   The author's use of characters seemed completely blunt, real and not sugar coated. Everyone and everything in this book was documented factual events that happened in reality. By David choosing to use his family as the primary characters for this book it really showed that he needed some way to deal with everything that was happening so writing was his way out. The 3 main characters that stuck out to me the most throughout the story was David, Nik and Karen whom is David's wife and Nik's step mom. Within the family dynamic amongsts these 3 people, David always was the layed back father whom had incredible insight into everything along with a big heart for he loved his family very deeply. Nik is a smart, artistic, social, down to earth guy whom is very family oriented when not under the influence however this changes over time the more he continues to use meth. He becomes very dark, quiet, manipulative, apathetic and withdrawn from his family over time. Karen loves her 2 children Jasper and Daisy along with her step son Nik whom she raised as one of her own over the years. She would bend over backwards for Nik however as time progresses she sees the effects that Nik has on his father and doesn't want that for her own kids so she begins to push Nik out of her life. Because she is so uncertain what Nik is going to do next she does her best to keep Jasper and Daisy away from their eldest step brother. The dynamic of this family was a very interesting thing to write about because over time there is proof to show that something so simple as a certain substance can become ones ultimate love leaving those in the dust that truly do love you for who you are, not for what you have.
   The style of writing that I picked up on when reading Beautiful Boy was that Sheff was able to write raw journal like entries using first person point of view to talk about everything that took place. The colorful vocabulary and descriptions for this book really stands out for you are looking at the world through David's eyes and seeing, hearing and feeling what is coming up for him per sentence. This let alone creates a complete style of tone and voice to the book for it shows that Sheff was really struggling with the immense amounts of emotional pain that was inflicted on him.
   Because Sheff took the time to write this book, I feel that he really cared about his son and needed some way to reach out to him and to prove that he to was effected by addiction that rooted itself deeply into Nik's character. When writing a book like this, it's something that is very personal however the biggest reason why Sheff continues to stay vulnerable and talk about the subject of addiction is because he has hope for not just his own son but for other parents that are going through the same thing as he does. The lack of sleep, headaches, aching stomach when waking up to find your child's room empty, missing money and items from around the house and having to change the locks in your house. Sheff has been through it all and he wants you to know to that there is still hope no matter how scary it may become. To this day, Sheff along with his son continues to be a big advocate for the study of drug abuse and addiction.
   After reading this book, I now am able to see the effects of addiction and how it effects not just a single person but society and families as a whole. Unfortunately I to fell down the same path as Nik in the sense that I started to use and it became my ultimate love. I would do anything for it even if that meant going against my own blood and closest friends however,  to this day I look back on all of those experiences and am blessed to have had them. I say this because I had  to fail in order to learn something new about myself and or anything really. I fell flat on my face numerous times, I was homeless at one point in time, I ran away and I did a lot of stupid things that I look back on now and regret however with all of this bad comes good as well because I know now what it means to love someone. I now know how to be vulnerable and let people into my life as opposed to isolating myself through putting up walls and not letting anyone in. I am better able to see other's perspectives on a situation as opposed to just being tunnel visioned of only my own emotions. Now I know what it is to be human. I currently am a year and 5 months sober to this day! A day at a time is all I can do.
   Passages from Beautiful Boy                                                                                

  • “Anyone who has lived through it, or those who are now living through it, knows that caring about an addict is as complex and fraught and debilitating as addiction itself.” 

  • “He had black fingernails and drove a hearse. Everything about him cried out, 'Look at me, look at me,' and when you looked at him, he would snap, 'Who the fuck are you looking at?' If you subscribe to the idea that addiction is a disease, it is startling to see how many of these children- paranoid, anxious, bruised, tremulous, withered, in some cases psychotic - are seriously ill, slowly dying. We'd never allow such a scene if these kids had any other disease. They would be in a hospital, not on the streets.” 

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