Sheff, N. (2008). Tweak: Growing up on methanphetamines. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Print.
Nic Sheff has it all: a supportive family life, acceptance into a top tier university, is a published author before he even graduates high school. After meth though, nothing is the same for Nic, all he thinks about is his next score. Read along as Nic struggles to get clean and beat meth once and for all.
After 18 months sober Nic skips out on his job and apartment in LA and drives to San Francisco. Almost immediately he meets up with a girl, Lauren, he hung around with briefly in high school. She’s got 4 months sober and together the two of them score some meth and delve deep into the depths of depravity. Nic has got about three thousand dollars to his name and he knows that it won’t last long when he’s supporting the meth habits of three people along with a little heroin abuse on the side for good measure. The only reasonable thing to do, Nic reasons, is to start selling meth himself, and thus Nic enters into a plan with his dealer, Gack, to buy and distribute meth.
It isn’t too long before Nic hits rock bottom and manages to drag himself back to LA, where his sponsor, Spencer, is waiting to help him get back on his feet. As Nic begins to work his way through the twelve steps with Spenser he feels confident in his ability to stay clean, but still longs for a deep and meaningful connection with someone. Enter Zelda, the older woman who Nic was having an affair with previous to his relapse. As Nic and Zelda become more and more involved Nic finds himself falling into old destructive patterns, but he is so in love that he doesn’t care. What will become of Nic once he discovers that Zelda is using again? Will Nic ever find the courage to stay sober in the face of all of his pain?
This book has received a lot of criticism, especially in the face of Nic’s dad’s book Beautiful Boy, which tells David Sheff’s version of the same story. Critics complain that Tweak is told from the perspective of a privileged, whiny, white kid and that his obsession with fame and tendency to name drop is a display of immaturity. They are all correct. Nic Sheff was 22 when he wrote this book and it is apparent in the tone of memoir. It’s good though, he doesn’t hold anything back, not so far as it is obvious anyhow, and his story is easily read (though perhaps not for the squeamish). Part of what is good about this novel is how young Nic is, how the language that he uses allows the book to be accessible for the population that it will most benefit: young adults.
Nic Sheff was born in 1982 and raised in Marin County California. His first published material appeared in Newsweek in 1999 and was about being raised as a kid who had to split his time between two families, as per his parent’s divorce agreement.
Nic states that he began experimenting with drugs and alcohol when he was around 12 years old and did meth for the first time around the time he was 17, and did his first stint in rehab at 19. Since Tweak was published he has struggled with relapse several times, but has a current sober date of November 2008. His most current book We All Fall Down picks up where Tweak left off and claims to tell a more mature tale of sobriety.
Non-Fiction, Drug Memoir, Methanphetamine
Nic says several times that he uses to escape his bad feelings. Where do you think these feelings originated from?
Reading Level/Interest Age
This book is chalk full of sex, bad language and drug use. It is certain to offend some readers or their parents. As with all of our books we encourage readers to choose what is right for them. We support the ALA Library Bill of Rights and avoid censorship of materials. We will reconsider books, but reserve the right to make final decision after review by the board. Alternate titles that handle the same subject are: Blackout Girl: Growing Up and Drying Out in America by Jennifer Storm and Come Back: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back by Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine.
Reason for Inclusion
Opens up an important discussion of drug abuse/depression. Realistic portrayal of the life of an addict.