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The First One’s Free

METH METH METH METH METH METH

The First One’s Free

BOOK REPORT for Tweak (Growing Up On Methamphetamines) by Nic Sheff

Cover Story: All Lies
Drinking Buddy: Um...No
Testosterone Level: How Are You Still Alive?
Talky Talk: A Wild Ride
Bonus Factor: California
Bromance Status:  A Cautionary Tale

Cover Story: All Lies

The original cover looks like a bunch of particles in a supercollider. The cover on my version is a tie-in to the 2018 movie Beautiful Boy.

Actually, the movie is more based on the novel with the same name, by Nic's father David, who is played by Steve Carell. David is only a minor character in this book.

The Deal:

Nic is twenty-two. And he likes meth. He likes meth a lot. Born into a rich family, he's relapsed so many times they want nothing more to do with him. Down and out in Frisco, Nic and his friends deal drugs, live on the streets, and do a lot of hard drugs. A lot of drugs.

In this memoir Nic Sheff tells us about how he did meth for the very last time, over and over and over again.

Drinking Buddy: Um...No

Nic, as you might have guessed, has a very one (needle) track mind. He has some money saved up fron when he was clean. But the second someone asks if he wants to do drugs--and I mean any kind of drugs--he's totally in. Meth, heroin, pills, anything goes. When someone suggests he smoke crack, something he's never done before, he goes for it. Along with his buddies Bullet and Gack, he makes grandiose plans to be a big time dealer, but they end up using most of their product. I can't say that's my scene.

At the same time, when Nic does manage to get sober, he can be an amazingly nice guy. With the help of his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor Spencer, he gets clean and practically becomes a member of the family, becoming an uncle to Spencer's young daughter. It's sweet, but ominous. You know he's going to blow it.

Testosterone Level: How Are You Still Alive?

Nic, who incidentally also writes young adult novels, is one of those people who should have died a long time ago. How did he never OD, get hepatitis or AIDS, get murdered, or wind up dead in a pool of his own sick in some filthy motel room? And yet, he's still alive. Maybe someday he can go hang out with Keith Richards and Charlie Sheen.

Talky Talk: A Wild Ride

This is an allegedly true story, though I wonder how he could possibly remember those times. At only twenty-two he had already hit rock bottom and that was before this book started. Then again, he's clean now and writing. This was an interesting look into the hard core world of drugs, addiction, and redemption.

At the same time, Nic has the tendency to blame other people for his relapses, especially his girlfriends, Lauren and Zelda (names have been changed). Quite frankly, it seems he was the poor influence, and we never find out what happened to his exes. And the whole thing is like watching a car wreck at times. Every time Nic finds a bit of happiness, you know he's about to screw up, and it's going to be bad. Which is kind of fun to read if you're into that sort of thing.

All in all, he didn't make being a meth addict look very appealing.

Bonus Factor: California

When Nic leaves Frisco and gets clean (in Los Angeles, no less), things are going pretty well. Then his ex, Zelda, calls him up (again, a fake name, and I can't help but wonder if he gave her an ugly name out of revenge). She's about twelve years older, the ex-wife of a minor celebrity, and a bit of a socialite. They hook up. She enjoys having a hot young boyfriend (though asks him not to mention that he's working as a receptionist at a hair salon). He enjoys dating a 'famous' person, going to all the right parties, and meeting all the right celebrities. She convinces him to drop Spencer as a sponsor. Pretty soon they're both using again, hard core drugs. But who cares? They're famous! They're important! This is California! This is...L.A.!

Bromance Status:  A Cautionary Tale

Not the most happy of books, but it was a nice, non-preachy cautionary tale. Nic never apologizes for what he does, but at the same time we don't need to be told he's unhappy. I'm still not going to watch the movie, though. I can't see Steve Carell in a non-comedic role.

Literary Matchmaking:

  

Harmony House, a YA horror story by the same author.

Tap Out, by Eric Devine, another drug book.

• Owen Matthews's How to Win at High School, another drug deal gone wrong novel.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free coy of this book from the publisher. I received no money or 'stuff'.

 

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.