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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-12-29 15:09
Schizo: A Novel Review (Important Spoiler)
Schizo: A novel - Nic Sheff

Release Date: September 30th, 2014 from the Penguin Group

Summary from cover:

 

"Mile's little brother Teddy is missing. The police believe he drowned at the beach-the very same day Miles had his first schizophrenic episode. But Miles knows better-Teddy is alive. Kidnapped. There was even a witness! Fueled by guilt, Miles sets off to rescue Teddy.

 

There is so much to overcome, though. The endless pills he must take. The girl who steals his heart and plays with it. The black crows that follow him.

 

As seen through Miles's distorted perception, his world closes around him as he pushed to keep it open. What you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, though, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling.

 

The New York Times bestselling author of Tweak offers a fascinating and ultimately quite hopeful story of one teen's downward spiral into mental illness."

 

I have always had trouble reading novels that contain addiction, mental illness, etc. Although I have trouble reading these types of subjects, there is something inside me that always draws me to read about them in novels such as Schizo: A Novel. Let me just say, I adored this book despite everything that happened to Miles.

 

This book was a relatively fast read, and it only took me a few hours to fly through it. The structure of the book isn't really the mainstream sort of layout, but, for a lack of better words, reminds me of a poem? I can't really describe it. Like, it looks like any other book would, but how it reads in my mind has some sort of poetic vibe to it. I actually really enjoyed that aspect. I think that was why it was so easy to read this book in just a few hours. 

 

The story itself was very intense. Instead of just saying, "This is what Schizophrenia does to you and here are the symptoms", I was able to actually see the mental illness through Miles's eye emotionally. There were moments that I felt very uneasy or upset because of what Miles had to go through, and it really touched my heart that I was able to connect with a character so much to the point where I felt what he was feeling. Sheff did an amazing job making Miles a character that I was able to have this connection with despite not having Schizophrenia. 

 

There are just a few things that I would like to point out. The outcome what happens with Teddy is actually very easy to figure out from just reading the first couple of chapters where the main character talks about him. On the other hand, I was really touched on how Scheff wrote Miles's reaction to the ending because it felt real. Have you ever read something and you thought, "Well, I can't see that happening in real life, but it was a nice shot"? This novel didn't have me thinking that way at all, and I'm very thankful for that.

 

(On an important note, this serves as a trigger warning for anyone suffering from suicidal thoughts, depression, etc. There is a suicide attempt that takes place towards the end of the novel. I felt the need to point that out because I really want to look out for anyone that struggles with these thoughts as much as I can. I hope I do not offend anyone with doing this because I mean no offense whatsoever.)

 

With all the important things taken care of for this review, I really do believe that this book deserves 5/5 stars. While I have read many novels pertaining to the subject of mental illness, I believe that Sheff was able to tell Miles's story very well. I can see how much effort the author put into Schizo: A Novel and how much time he spent in making the story as believable as possible to have the readers see Schizophrenia through the eyes of another. There was a beautifully done character development as well, and overall, I just really hope this novel earns a lot of praise.

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review 2013-11-18 01:36
Raw, honest, amazing
Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines - Nic Sheff

Opening Line: "I'd heard rumors about what happened to Lauren, I mean, I never even knew her that well but we'd sort of hung out a few times in high school"

 

There's been a lot of buzz around Nic Sheff's bestselling memoir TWEAK and for good reason, its un-put-downable. This candid, gritty and detailed struggle with addiction is an amazing story but what entranced me most here wasn't Nic's decent into methamphetamine hell or his subsequent struggles to remain sober and find some kind of peace within himself, it's the way this story is told. Nic Sheff the author has a gift and I adored his short choppy style of writing. His ability to put into words the pain and loneliness we all at times feel even during the height of his addiction when the words purposely become vague, paranoid and crazy. I can only hope that he continues to write as I would read anything he publishes.

 

Tweak chronicles 642 days in Nic Sheff's life. Beginning on day 1 we bare witness to Nic relapsing after 18 months sober. Nic hadn't planned on relapsing that day, his life was working "I'd made so much progress" but without a second thought Nic picks up right up where he left off and in a matter of 32 days loses everything... again. We follow Nic during those 32 days, learning about his history, his insecurities and disappointed family. We watch Nic score and scheme (and dream) and get high and get really sick. Only quitting when he runs out of money and can no longer function. Nic's family will have nothing to do with him but he gets one more chance from his sponsor, who in a tough love way helps get Nic back on his feet...again.

 

 

Spenser brings Nic into his family, taking him to meetings and working the 12 steps. As readers we finally get to see sober Nic. Following him on his obsessively long bike rides and feeling his excitement as he begins to write and reconnect with his family. On day 278 Nic gets a call from Zelda, the love of his life and despite warnings from friends and family Nic can't stay away from her. Quickly becoming as addicted to the beautiful but toxic Zelda as he was to drugs. Within a matter of months Nic is using again, this time its heroin and crack and the fall he takes here is faster and harder than before. Almost losing an arm to infection from a dirty needle his 22 year old body soon starts to give out.

 

It was despairing as a reader watching this unfold. I could feel Nic's desperation and loneliness, his inability to fit in and need to be loved but I also felt myself becoming angry when he relapsed because I wanted him to succeed so much that it was hard to read, I just wanted to shake him and say what are you doing?

 

This is a raw and honest look at the up and down life of an addict, it's heartbreaking, ultimately uplifting and truly enjoyable. The paperback edition also contains a group reading guide and a new afterward by the author.

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review 2013-08-06 00:00
Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines
Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines - Nic Sheff this is a strong and poignant story of drug-use, narrated by a Hollywood youngster whose cocaine-ecstasy-crack-heroin-meth parties take place in Valley mansions with swimming pools and populated by actresses and down-and-out producers. it may have, to some degree, the standard use-overdose-rehab-relapse and 'agitated psychotic/hysterical' sequences as many drug works, but the writer rarely loses control of the authorial voice and the story can be quite evocative at points. solid 4/5 pushing the 5.

= = = = =

after I left Tigger, that "night that was the most important thing I've ever done in my life," according to an itinerant musician and folk ethnomusicologist, I never again had any real world exposure to crack. some artists or philosophers lay the case that all creativity or meaning occurs on the edge of danger. had I cooled my heels at the crack den for some 30 days, a book would have been written. meaning would have been understood. but look =>

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_cocaine

the crack coaine high is 5- 10 minutes. think about that. in the amount of time it takes to write a goodreads review, a crack addict is already coming down from their joyous excursion into happy land and is now irritable, irritated, annoyed, and paranoid. that is why I can hang out with a lawyer whose doing cocaine; I don't have any huge problem with stoners; even an ecstasy-chomping club kid probably isn't going to flip emotions within 5 minutes. but crack is freakin' bad news. soft drugs: marijuana, khat, betel nuts, even x (in terms of danger to bystanders, not necessarily in terms of high). hard drugs: crystal meth, amphetamines in general, crack, heroin. hard = danger to you, the person who's just watching the drugs being taken.

so I guess if I'm blabbing or whatever, the long and the short of it, is that I'm stuck here writing goodreads reviews as a frustrated writer and not as a world-changing author of '30 Days on The Crack of Hell' because at the age of nineteen I got up in the morning and left the crack den. but possibly I could have been knifed; some of the girls present (probably selling their bodies) could have brought back trouble; there could have been some outbreak of sexual jealousy or some sort of status/power struggle. who knows.

now let's return to that backpacking trip. a few days later an email came from the now defunct Northwest Airlines. for a mere $350 plus frequent flyer miles, they would take me to a week in Japan. I did it. I arrived in Kyoto; the red lanters lining the flowing river on a soft, never-bombed city filled with paving stones and old wooden houses was of course a distinct arrival experience. most tourists arrive in Tokyo; I arrived in Kyoto. (see also: [b:The Lady and the Monk|131101|The Lady and the Monk Four Seasons in Kyoto|Pico Iyer|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320433732s/131101.jpg|2954374])

Japan was already by that time of history pouring in its anime/manga into susceptible American teenagers. this compares to the 1950s relationship, whereas some grandpa once told me, "Japan used to export these little tin toys to America, and when they broke, you could see the Campbell soup label still inside."
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review 2013-04-02 23:24
Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines
Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines - Nic Sheff A memoir by a drug-addicted teen who comes off as astonishingly unsympathetic and distinctly unlikeable.
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review 2011-05-29 00:00
We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction
We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction - Nic Sheff This book is a candid telling of what Nic Sheff did to try and stay sober. The hard road he took and about who helped and who became co-dependants with him. I was curious about this world as I kid to my mother that I would be the world's worst addict. I hate taking pills, even those that help me like my migraine medication. Personally, I hate that feeling of being out of control or being controlled by a substance, so this world is foreign to me. Yes, I have actually met addicts, even gone to school with some. The destruction I witness was one of an outsider but I could still see the path of destruction addiction wrought, just like a tornado. Now, I am sensitive to those that have lost to the recent tornadoes, but I have seen that same haunting look in loved ones who were left behind, hence the parallel.

This book opens the doors to what it might be like as an addict. We hear Nic's addict speak, justifications to others and especially himself as he knows the road he is on will lead back to addiction. We see programs that just didn't work for him. This part actually upset me. It seemed to me that the individual was ignored and that confusing messages were being played at the center he was trying to get sober. It actually made him a better con artist rather than gave him building blocks to work on to stay in sobriety. The counsellor's ego and their ill equipped programs were more important than getting at root problems and making sure there was nothing more chemically related going on within his brain. And as he points out 12 step programs aren't for everyone. However, what is great about Nic, is that he didn't like the 12 step program but still got use out of it. He found a sober community in which he could relate. So, only in that aspect, albeit an important one, he found solace in that program.

This book is slated for the YA crowd. I think that is important and it makes sense. It is a book that may relate to those just starting on their addiction journey. Perhaps they will find something that speaks to an at risk group and instead of turning to drugs, they can seek out better ways to mature normally instead of stunting their emotional growth. For example, addicts often feel that they are too sensitive for the world. Perhaps that is true, but it is also more true that they do not have the proper coping skills to deal with these strong emotions. So, by saying that I feel this is also important one for parents to read this as well, so they can have a grasp at what may be going on, get help themselves, and direct behavior appropriately without freaking out.

I give this book 3 stars. It is a hard book to read because you see him going down the same path over and over. However, that is the beauty in the book as well. It is a warning for kids to find out who they really are and find a community to support them even if their family doesn't. You can't do that numb.
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