Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Review: Methland

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding

I keep reading books about meth, and I keep finding myself engrossed in the stories. Methland starts where Beautiful Boy and Tweak leave off. Those books are excruciating personal family stories, one written by the father (David Sheff), one by the son (Nic Sheff), about the son's addiction and the repercussions on the lives of the family members as well as the addict. Set mostly in the Bay Area of northern California, they chronicle Nic's descent from healthy, successful college-bound high school student to the life of an addict in and out of rehab.

is an investigation into what meth is doing to rural America, who the culprits are, and who the heroes are. Methland addresses the problem of what the culture of the drug is doing to small towns and also to America as a whole. Reding investigates how meth infiltrated one small town in Iowa (and across the nation), what the government is and isn't doing about it, Mexico's role, the food industry's role, and the local people who are giving their careers and lives to try to stop this controversial epidemic. He develops relationships with addicts, politicians, and cops over a few years (2005-8) and lets readers meet these people and learn how their issues came to be. An engaging book, this should be read by politicians and citizens interested in the ramifications of addiction to meth on the American Dream.

My only complaint is that Methland doesn't have an index. That would have made it more helpful for future researchers. Otherwise I highly recommend Methland, as well as the books by David and Nic Sheff. David Sheff was an author and journalist before writing Beautiful Boy, which is evident by the writing, and I recommend it to adults. Tweak, written by the son Nic, isn't as well-written, but it is exciting to read the tale told by the addict. I would recommend Tweak to high school juniors and seniors (it is sexually explicit, so it would depend upon your community). Methland is good for 11th grade and up.

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