As someone who is staunchly against the concepts of parenthood and family life, reading a book from the perspective of a parent was something that initially seemed foreign and off-putting. But “Beautiful Boy” by David Sheff is a book on a completely different plane. It has a level of emotion that cuts so deeply through the banal tedium of everyday life that it leaves the reader looking at the world, what it means to be a parent and what it means to have signfigant connections with a sense of painful sadness at the separateness of human existence. Sheff, who has written for The New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine, tells the story of his drug addicted son, Nic, with candor, lacing every sentence with the pain of watching his son self-destruct over years of repeated abuse and the demonizing cycle of failed treatment centers, periods of positive change and devastating relapse. His father experiences an awful sense of hopelessness as he watches his son degenerate into the hell of addiction, and we stand with him, watching, hoping and despairing as his beautiful boy succumbs to the force of his addiction — to meth, cocaine, crack and even heroine. Sheff’s love alone is not enough to save his son — the most impossible lesson of parenting and of any human relationship. But what triumphs in Sheff’s riveting and crushing tour de force is faith. Nic Sheff himself has published two memoirs about his years of addiction, which are riveting for their graphic accounts of the horrors of addiction but provide none of the anguish and life-altering lessons found in David Sheff’s memoir.
Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.