West Allis Community Read

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and the City of West Allis, the West Allis-West Milwaukee Mental Health and Substance Abuse Task Force, West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, and Aurora Health Care are partnering to offer a full month of activities that will encourage conversation about addiction and mental health issues and work to #stopthestigma surrounding these issues in the community.

You’re invited to read the novels "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff and "Tweak" by David’s son, Nic Sheff. These true stories offer a father and son’s perspective through the son’s journey of addiction and recovery. Then, join us in May for community events designed to inspire, unite, and #stopthestigma to encourage those who may need help to connect with community resources. 

Books, audiobooks, and ebooks are available through West Allis Public Library.

Thank you to the Rotary Club of West Allis for generously donating funding towards the purchase of 120 copies of the book "Beautiful Boy" to distribute throughout the community.

about the books

Photograph of book cover of author David Sheff’s novel "Beautiful Boy""Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff

From DavidSheff.com

What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted every moment of David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery.

Before Nic Sheff became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets.

David Sheff traces the first subtle warning signs: the denial, the 3 A.M. phone calls (is it Nic? the police? the hospital?), the rehabs. His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself, and the obsessive worry and stress took a tremendous toll. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every avenue of treatment that might save his son and refused to give up on Nic. "Beautiful Boy" is a fiercely candid memoir that brings immediacy to the emotional rollercoaster of loving a child who seems beyond help.

Photograph of book cover of author Nic Sheff’s autiobiography "Tweak""Tweak" by Nic Sheff

From SimonandSchuster.com

Nic Sheff was drunk for the first time at age eleven. In the years that followed, he would regularly smoke pot, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. Even so, he felt like he would always be able to quit and put his life together whenever he needed to. It took a violent relapse one summer in California to convince him otherwise. In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling us the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and the road to recovery. As we watch Nic plunge into the mental and physical depths of drug addiction, he paints a picture for us of a person at odds with his past, with his family, with his substances, and with himself. It’s a harrowing portrait—but not one without hope.


Friday, May 1: Kick-Off | West Allis Public Library | 4 - 5:30 p.m.

Pick up a copy of "Beautiful Boy" to read and share and explore activities designed to raise awareness of addiction issues in our community. 

Tuesday, May 5: "Beautiful Boy" Film Showing and Student Art Show | Dottke High School | 6:30 p.m.

View student art displays and join the community for a free showing of the 2018 film "Beautiful Boy" starring Steve Carell.

Monday, May 11: Community Talk Back | Village of Manor Park Senior Community Club | 2 p.m.

Join Librarians from West Allis Public Library for a conversation about the books and the film. Share your thoughts and experiences and discover what other readers think about the Sheffs’ stories.

Tuesday, May 12: "Beautiful Boy" Film Showing | West Allis Public Library | 6 p.m.

If you’re unable to view the film on May 5, another opportunity will be available on May 12 at West Allis Public Library.

Thursday, May 14: Paint Your Emotions | Inspiration Studios Gallery | 6:30 p.m.

Explore the power of art to express emotion in a casual, comfortable painting class. All materials provided, no experience necessary. Registration is required via Inspiration Studio’s website, or call 414-587-3474 to reserve your seat.

Saturday, May 16: Community Talk Back | West Allis Public Library | 10 a.m.

West Allis Public Library’s monthly Books & Coffee book club will feature "Beautiful Boy" in May. Join this open book club on Saturday, May 16 to discuss the book.

Tuesday, May 19: Parenting Differently: A Workshop for Parents | West Allis Public Library | 6 - 7:30 p.m.

West Allis-West Milwaukee School District staff will offer guidance and tools for parents to teach resiliency, coping skills, and supportive mental health tactics to decrease the likelihood that children will engage in behaviors that may lead to addiction. Parents, please leave children at home for this event.

Thursday, May 21: Teen & Tween Improv Night | West Allis Public Library | 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Acting improvisation is not only fun, but teaches self-confidence, supports stress relief, and enhances communication skills. No experience is necessary! Inspiration Studios Gallery staff invite teens and tweens to explore the power of improv through games and activities. 

Tuesday, May 26: Community Talk Back | West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation Center | 6 p.m.

As Mental Health Month winds down, we offer one more opportunity to join your neighbors in conversation about the books, mental health issues, and battling addiction both at home and in our community. Come share your thoughts.

Thursday, May 28: Reflections of Wellness | West Allis Central High School | 6 - 8 p.m.

Advocate-Aurora Health Care, West Allis Health Department, and West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation & Community Services host their annual Reflections of Wellness, an evening designed to refresh and strengthen body and mind. Keynote speaker Katherine Reuter-Adamek, two-time Olympic short track speed skating medalist, will speak on resiliency and self-esteem. Break out sessions include:

  • Body Image and Self-Acceptance with Lisa Kendall and Christine Campbell
  • Mindfulness with Kim Stephens and Kristin Wick
  • Tai Chi for Resiliency with John Burns
  • Communication skills, art classes, and more

Registration will be available online shortly.