A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tweak by Nic Sheff

Let me begin by saying that this is a difficult book to review.  I had read great reviews about this book, so I picked it up in the teen section of a local book store; however, after reading it, I'm wondering why I found it there.  The book was fascinating, to say the least, but I don't see it as a book that every teen needs to read.  Tweak does a great job of exposing what life is like for an addict at this age who has secluded himself from his family; it's gritty, it's real, and it doesn't sugarcoat anything.  The problem I have is not with the book but instead with the audience to whom it's being marketed.  This book could be appropriate for older teens, but I would still advise that educators and librarians read it first and recommend it cautiously.  

Title:  Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines
Author:  Nic Sheff
Pages:  336
Publisher:  Ginee Seo Books
ISBN:  9781416913627
Publication Date:  February 19, 2008
AR Levels: Interest Level--9th to 12th; Book Level--4.9; Points--17.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/657371.Tweak

In a nutshell:  Nic Sheff's real life journey with substance abuse began at age 11.  He's done it all--alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, pills, heroin.  He was in and out of treatment programs during his teens and early 20s, and finally his family told him they were through with him until he decided to get help and commit to staying clean.  He's lived on the streets, in his car, on friends' couches, and has resorted to extreme measures to feed his habit, including dealing drugs and prostituting himself.  This book chronicles a few years of his life on his journey to recovery.  (I sugarcoated that description--the language and content of the book are much more vivid.)

I'd recommend it for grades: 12+.  If I have to give it a grade recommendation, I'd say mature 12th graders (if that).  The f-word is used hundreds of times, the sexual content is very explicit, and the descriptions of drug use are very graphic.  Viewer discretion advised is an understatement.

I'd recommend it to: All of that said, there is still an audience for this book.  Teens and young adults struggling with addiction might appreciate reading about the similar struggles of someone their age.  Also, parents and educators familiar with students in similar situations might benefit from an insider view of what that experience can be like.

What I liked most about the book:  Nic is very genuine and doesn't hold back from sharing his failures and weaknesses.  He gives the reader total access to his past.

Single Favorite Moment:  At one point, Nic is talking with Spencer (his recovery sponsor), who tells him a story to illustrate that even the worst of experiences can have a positive outcome.  The story he uses is the Arabian Horse Story if you're interested.

Star Rating:  I'm giving this one 3 stars.  It's a good book, but it's not for everyone.  You may also like Nic's father's telling of the story--Beautiful Boy by David Sheff.

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