Beautiful Boy

by David Sheff

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In the introduction to Beautiful Boy, Sheff writes, “I have felt and thought and done almost everything an addict’s parents can feel and think and do” (13). Which of his experiences, thoughts, and actions had the biggest impact on you? Why? Explain.

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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.

David Sheff writes this in Beautiful Boy, and I think it is the fundamental reality to remember. Sheff describes immense feelings that not only have to do with love and losing control of that love but of grieving as well. At the height of his son's addiction, Sheff almost has to come to terms with the loss of his son as if his son is dead. After coming to terms with that probable outcome, David Sheff is forced to go through every stage of grief imaginable. At times he blames himself, at times he is enraged, at times he tries to save his son. However, Sheff is unable to truly save his son and simply begins to lose control over himself in the process. Sheff's life unravels along with his son's. I think that is the unique tragedy of Beautiful Boy: that we often lose ourselves when we love someone else with our whole heart.

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