Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines

Common Sense Media says

Real addict offers honest, mature portrayal.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Nic steals from his family, including his younger brother, lies, and even decides at one point to become a drug dealer. He also has been a male prostitute in order to support his habit. He also works hard to stop the cycle of addiction.


Nic and other addicts threaten violence when a customer underpays for his drugs (they go to his door with a knife and screwdriver). Nic also describes his girlfriend's overdose and also his own horrific arm infection that almost leads to amputation.


Nic graphically describes the sex he has with his girlfriends.


Lots of mature talk. Readers will find all the biggies here.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Nic shoots meth and heroin, drinks, smokes crack, and does an assortment of other substances.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a very mature book: Nic shoots meth and heroin, drinks, smokes crack, and does an assortment of other substances. To support his drug habit, he tries dealing (in the past he's also been a hustler). Nic is honest about the toll drugs are having on his body -- also, he talks about his girlfriend's heroin overdose and saving her life with CPR. There are intense sex scenes in the book, as well as a series of disturbing characters (including an addict whose girlfriend nearly killed him by shooting him in the head, and a drug client who Nic catches in the middle of a bondage sex act).

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

This gritty autobiography provides an honest look at a young man's relapse into drug use, his attempt at recovery, another relapse, and then another (more successful) rehab. Nic narrates his own story, and provides a blunt look at what he has done to score drugs (from stealing from his younger brother to prostituting himself). He uses flashbacks throughout the book, recalling both to his unorthodox childhood and to the ups and downs of his life as an addict. Ultimately he is able to put the pieces together so he can emerge as a complete adult.

Is it any good?


Like Ellen Hopkins' popular Crank, this book demonstrates how addiction, especially addiction to meth amphetamine, is thoroughly destructive, not just to the user but to the family as well. Unlike Crank, though, which was written in verse and easy to read despite its grittiness, Sheff's book is thick and seems much more grounded in the adult world: He is 22, on his own, and has many friends who are much older, including the woman he wants to marry. This is ultimately a story about a young man "learning to stand on his own," but there is very little else that marks it for the young adult market.

All that aside, the writing is both raw and gripping. Readers will certainly get a sense of what it means to be an addict through this honest portrayal. And they will find themselves quickly feeling sorry for and frustrated with an increasingly desperate Nic. It's obvious that he has so much potential, but instead keeps choosing a life filled with drugs, dealing, occasional homelessness, creepy people, medical problems and more. Readers may not always relate to Nic's experiences, but they will be swept up in his seemingly endless cycle of addiction and recovery. And they will root for him to break it. In the end, teens will be touched by Nic's honesty -- and they will be exhausted.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about books and movies that provide insight into life as a drug addict. Ask your kids: What other examples can you think of? What is the purpose of these stories -- especially when they are targeted to teens? Do you think they impact kids' choices? How so?

Book details

Author:Nic Sheff
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:February 5, 2008
Number of pages:336
Read aloud:15
Read alone:15

This review of Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byTatianaTaylord June 13, 2012

I liked it.

What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written bycitykid96 June 9, 2011

Amazing Book

People say this book shouldn't be read by young teens but people should also see how kids can learn from this. this kids i go to high school now are like Nic and are going down his road. Reading this could make a big impact on their lives.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written bytweaklover March 3, 2011


love ittttt!
What other families should know
Educational value


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