This is an example of the overlapping story lines that makes this book so powerful -- unlike a simple chronicle, Sheff shows the reader that life continues, that adults grieve, and that imperfection and doubt follow us throughout our cycle on hear. Sheff writes, "When I am alone, I weep in a way that I have not wept since I was a young boy" (Ibid).
The idea that love is never enough when dealing with an addict is another major theme; when Nic is sober, he is hopeful if tenuous, when he relapses, he steals for his next "high." But the power of Nic, whether in the room or not, juxtaposes with the addictions we all face in life; "We do not talk about Nic. it's not that we're not thinking about him. His addiction and his twin, the specter of his death, permeate the air we breathe" (Fong). Yet, this brutally honest admission, too, shows the vulnerability everyone shares when dealing with addictions of any type -- the permeation of life, almost as if we walk around imitating ourselves, while spending our energy dealing with the addictive behavior.
Perhaps the most positive attribute of Sheff's book is that he succeeds in raising awareness about the effects of drug use on the abuser, as well as the cumulative effect on not just the family, but the community at large. Whether we have an addiction in our own families is less important than the resources that are necessary to treat these addictions and the costs to society both psychologically and fiscally they engender. In addition, Sheff's verbiage could not do more to allow us into his heart and mind -- but to see that anyone, regardless of their gifts, beauty, intellect, and personality, changes into a nightmare of themselves when they give their soul to drugs (Knox).
Fong, J. "Book Review: Beautiful Boy." BC Blogcritics Books. 4 May 2008, Cited in: