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“I come from a family forged by tragedies and bound by a remarkable, unbreakable love,” Hunter Biden writes in this deeply moving memoir of addiction, loss, and survival. When he was two-years-old, Hunter Biden was badly injured in a car accident that killed his mother and baby sister. In 2015, he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved big brother, Beau, who died of b “I come from a family forged by tragedies and bound by a remarkable, unbreakable love,” Hunter Biden writes in this deeply moving memoir of addiction, loss, and survival. When he was two-years-old, Hunter Biden was badly injured in a car accident that killed his mother and baby sister. In 2015, he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved big brother, Beau, who died of brain cancer at the age of forty-six. These hardships were compounded by the collapse of his marriage and a years-long battle with drug and alcohol addiction. In Beautiful Things, Hunter recounts his descent into substance abuse and his tortuous path to sobriety. The story ends with where Hunter is today—a sober married man with a new baby, finally able to appreciate the beautiful things in life.


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“I come from a family forged by tragedies and bound by a remarkable, unbreakable love,” Hunter Biden writes in this deeply moving memoir of addiction, loss, and survival. When he was two-years-old, Hunter Biden was badly injured in a car accident that killed his mother and baby sister. In 2015, he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved big brother, Beau, who died of b “I come from a family forged by tragedies and bound by a remarkable, unbreakable love,” Hunter Biden writes in this deeply moving memoir of addiction, loss, and survival. When he was two-years-old, Hunter Biden was badly injured in a car accident that killed his mother and baby sister. In 2015, he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved big brother, Beau, who died of brain cancer at the age of forty-six. These hardships were compounded by the collapse of his marriage and a years-long battle with drug and alcohol addiction. In Beautiful Things, Hunter recounts his descent into substance abuse and his tortuous path to sobriety. The story ends with where Hunter is today—a sober married man with a new baby, finally able to appreciate the beautiful things in life.

30 review for Beautiful Things: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I devoured this beautifully written memoir in a day. At the core of his message of love, acceptance, and perseverance is Hunter’s brother, Beau, who died far too young yet made an impact as deep as a moon crater. And then there’s his father, our current President, who went through hell to help him, and did so without judgment. Biden never, ever gave up on his son. Regardless of how you feel about Biden, know that his family is his biggest achievement and his devotion to them is unbreakable, espe I devoured this beautifully written memoir in a day. At the core of his message of love, acceptance, and perseverance is Hunter’s brother, Beau, who died far too young yet made an impact as deep as a moon crater. And then there’s his father, our current President, who went through hell to help him, and did so without judgment. Biden never, ever gave up on his son. Regardless of how you feel about Biden, know that his family is his biggest achievement and his devotion to them is unbreakable, especially for Hunter. I guarantee you will find a connection to Biden’s life as you read this memoir. Whether it’s his middle class childhood, the grief at losing his mother and infant sister in a traumatic car accident, his determination to make it on his own without the help of his father, becoming a father himself, his failed relationships, or his whirlwind romance to his now wife. It’s life. And it’s messy, confusing, awesome, and complex. He’s far from perfect, but we all are. While the stories may be different, the feelings are the same. No one has put Hunter Biden through more pain and heartache than Hunter Biden. Even with all the attention from political opponents, his biggest enemy will always be himself. Biden’s account of his addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine is not for the faint of heart. Because my God, does our boy have a tolerance to somehow survive week-long binges. Often without sleep. Or food. There were several points when I asked myself how he was still alive or not in prison. And I say this as someone who has found people dead following an overdose, or put people in prison. Despite living an affluent lifestyle, none of that matters when your addiction leads you to the seedy, unforgiving underbelly, which it did for him and will for anyone who goes down that path. And if you are thinking of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a movie I hate, you aren’t far off from what Biden’s life was like. Unlike other memoirs I’ve read on drug addiction, this really gets into the nitty gritty of crack cocaine use. How insidious it is. How chaotic it makes life, as you stay awake for days straight. The time, money, and self-respect wasted looking for that next high. The wash, rinse, and repeat lifestyle that both confuses, exhausts, and aggravates the ones you love. And through it all, Biden shows that regardless of support, money, or the completion of the most expensive treatment programs, staying sober is hard and takes work. And it shouldn’t be ridiculed. Recovery and openness about our struggles should be encouraged so that it can be prevented in others, and serve as a reminder that all is not lost. It’s not like Biden doesn’t feel ashamed. Because it is clear he does. Why put salt on the wound? I’m glad Biden wrote this memoir, one that needs to be told more. Our country is drunk and drugged to excess, and denying that would be to deny reality. This book is obviously not for kids. I wouldn’t even recommend teenagers read it because it has many graphic stories surrounding explicit drug use that wouldn’t be appropriate, or safe for a teen to listen to. Warning: This memoir could possibly trigger you if you are currently struggling or in recovery. So, take breaks if you need to stop and remember the beautiful things. After all, you can’t truly appreciate all the world’s beauty unless you’ve witnessed the ugly.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nia Forrester

    I really enjoyed this, which surprised me since the few memoirs I've read in the past have felt like either whitewashed, idealized versions of someone as they want to see themselves, or sensationalized, exaggerated versions to make a pedestrian experience seem exceptional. This one was neither. I was only marginally interested in Hunter Biden until I saw his father's heartfelt and moving defense of him, and (unprecedented) public admission of Hunter's substance use disorder during what was other I really enjoyed this, which surprised me since the few memoirs I've read in the past have felt like either whitewashed, idealized versions of someone as they want to see themselves, or sensationalized, exaggerated versions to make a pedestrian experience seem exceptional. This one was neither. I was only marginally interested in Hunter Biden until I saw his father's heartfelt and moving defense of him, and (unprecedented) public admission of Hunter's substance use disorder during what was otherwise an embarrassment of a presidential debate. I was struck by how honest the emotion was in that defense, made even more so by the fact that on the other side of the debate stage was someone who lacks any emotional intelligence whatsoever. But Joe Biden's voice and demeanor were definitely a reminder of his uncommon love for his children. It made me curious to learn more about their family. Later, when I had completely forgotten that curiosity, I saw a clip of Hunter Biden on Jimmy Kimmel promoting this book, where he came across as funny, thoughtful, intelligent and having a lot more depth and dimension than the caricature of a n'er do well that he gets portrayed as in the media. So I picked his memoir up. Within the first twenty pages, I was teary-eyed, sharing his grief about the loss of his brother. He did an amazing job showing the strength and meaning of their bond without just telling us over and over again that it was strong and meaningful. He also managed to give a sense of how deeply the accident where he lost his mother and little sister affected their family, and continued as an ever-present tragedy in his consciousness. And I loved the descriptive prose that showed what it was like to be the young son of a rising political figure. But politics is the backdrop. It is clear that Hunter Biden is in some ways formed by having been in a political family, but not consumed by it. He also makes the case that neither is his father, and neither was his brother. They were instead consumed by a desire to be of service. The memoir gets even more interesting when he describes his descent into addiction, and the almost madcap quality of his life (which I'm not altogether convinced he doesn't miss somewhat) as he pursued his next high. Especially fascinating was his portrayal of his friendship with Rhea, a middle-aged Black woman who lived on the streets of Washington DC and then came to live with him for about five months, both of them getting high, but also forging an unlikely friendship that he describes as being one of the most genuine in his life. Most of all I loved this memoir because of how it adds texture and dimension to a person we all think we know something about, and shows how little we actually know. At the end of this reading experience, I sympathized with his journey and wish him and his family well as he continues it. Recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    In this honest, sincere, heartbreaking, and gut wrenching memoir, Hunter Biden reflects back on his life. Writing about the highs and lows (the very very lows), he bravely lets you see the demons he fought, but also lets you see the unbreakable bonds of love, respect, and family ties that have lifted him up and sustained him throughout his life. Parts of this book are hard to read because Hunter writes candidly about his battles with alcohol and drug abuse over many years. He admitted himself in In this honest, sincere, heartbreaking, and gut wrenching memoir, Hunter Biden reflects back on his life. Writing about the highs and lows (the very very lows), he bravely lets you see the demons he fought, but also lets you see the unbreakable bonds of love, respect, and family ties that have lifted him up and sustained him throughout his life. Parts of this book are hard to read because Hunter writes candidly about his battles with alcohol and drug abuse over many years. He admitted himself into rehab many times, only to end up relapsing. With the never ending support of his family, he has been able to beat his addictions. Hunter Biden writes with humility at the end of his memoir, “what an incredible gift it is: to live in the light of beautiful things”. Unforgettable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Wynne Kontos

    Hunter Biden drove a car into the air off the I-10 in Palm Springs just a few miles from where I live in the California desert. I know this because I just finished his debut memoir, BEAUTIFUL THINGS. Any memoir by the president's son is a Big Release, so I was increasingly tortured by the reviews pouring into my inbox. Having read his father's memoir and Obama's behemoth Memoir Number One, I thought I'd go ahead and read this. But in all this year's hooplah, I forgot I pre-0rdered the book months Hunter Biden drove a car into the air off the I-10 in Palm Springs just a few miles from where I live in the California desert. I know this because I just finished his debut memoir, BEAUTIFUL THINGS. Any memoir by the president's son is a Big Release, so I was increasingly tortured by the reviews pouring into my inbox. Having read his father's memoir and Obama's behemoth Memoir Number One, I thought I'd go ahead and read this. But in all this year's hooplah, I forgot I pre-0rdered the book months ago. With the reviews suddenly pouring in, it was infuriating then that my USPS tracking for the book's shipment got all messed up. If you've talked to me in the last three days, you already know this. It's not just that I was curious what Hunter would write about. That an NPR review referred to it as "a 12 Step meeting" or the added anticipation by the goofy mail tracking. I feel an odd kinship with the Biden family's loss. I feel an odd kinship with a lot of stranger's loss, a weird side effect I suppose afflicts us that have lost the person we love the most. But when I hear Joe Biden talk about the months after losing his first wife and infant daughter in a car accident (even if it's the same recycled speech he's had to utter a thousand times) there's something in his recitation that feels true to me. The anger he talks about, the big gaping hole while you're moving through the motions. When my father was hospitalized for a near fatal illness in the summer of 2019, I read a long article in The New Yorker about whether Hunter Biden was a liability for his father's presidential campaign. Even though there were a million Democratic candidates for president back then, Joe Biden was always a favorite of my father's. That he'd chosen not to run in 2016 amidst personal tragedy was something my dad brought up a lot. When he was taken off intubation, I told him about the Hunter Biden article I'd read at his bedside. He didn't remember this conversation, I later learned. I had to send him the article again last fall. So maybe it's more than just the grief speech. I'm a little biased. The Biden family story is familiar to all at this point, especially after the insanity of the 2020 election. It wasn't just Joe Biden's personal history. His story of grief and resiliency was used as a way to connect with voters. Even powerful people have pain! the message seemed to hammer. The death of his eldest son, Beau, to brain cancer in 2015 was also a constant on the campaign trail. Beau was the Attorney General of Delaware, a veteran of the Armed Forces. The Golden Son, if you were to believe the stories. It always left me wondering about Hunter. His struggles with substance abuse went acknowledged but unexplored in the press, even to the extent that Trump and his cronies tried to harp on them. Hunter's oldest daughter is about my age, and I remember looking her up on Instagram during the election last fall and wondering what her life was like. She was pictured on the campaign, as were her two younger sisters. But her father never was. Over and over the Biden family remembered their lost son, Beau. But rarely did they mention Hunter. "Where's Hunter?" Trump would taunt at his rallies/Klan meetings. It turns out Hunter was at the Chauteau Marmont cooking up his own crack cocaine under the tutelage of Curtis, a former pro-skateboarder turned addict. The book goes on in this way. Opening on an agonizing account of Beau's illness and death (familiar if you read Joe's memoir, though this recounting is from a different angle.) Soon, Hunter is drowning in the wreckage of his already ailing marriage. The death of his brother proves too much. For almost four years he goes from functioning alcoholic to full on crack addict. The fact that much of this was kept out of the press and unbeknownst to us will have you amazed once again with the skill of a powerful PR team. Hunter writes lovingly about his family and openly about his working relationship with Burisma. He spares nothing when it comes to his addiction and his descent into further debaucherous behavior. But like all "political" memoirs, this one has the strong scent of repression. Strange, for a story that starts off with Hunter acknowledging the painful repression that sets the tone for the rest of his life. How do you mourn a mother and sister you never got to know? How do you acknowledge the hole their absence has left behind when you have a mother figure and gigantic, loving family around you, providing for your every need? You repress your feelings of course! You act out! You struggle in school! And ultimately, you drink! Hunter is barely out of the woods here. He's good at recognizing how fragile his recovery is, even while he has a hopeful reason to start anew. (His new wife, Melissa, and their one-year-old son Beau.) But he's still writing from a place of protection. Whether it's to protect his father, the now President of the United States or his daughters, there's a veneer that never fully gets lifted. It's easy to tell war stories, but it's harder to reflect on what caused you to be at war to begin with. This is a mistake that a lot of memoirist make and a lot of readers are all too ready to consume. By telling us his craziest stories, Hunter makes it seem like he's really baring it all. But he's just telling us another addict's drop in the bucket. Not to diminish his behavior--it really does suck. But I found myself pitying his ex-wife, Kathleen, and their children. After more than two decades of marriage, their divorce occurs in the most painful, humiliating way possible while Hunter is off getting high and Kathleen is left to parent their three girls. His anger towards her seems thinly veiled at times, though he once refers to her as "brave." Kathleen set hard boundaries as their marriage broke up and his addiction worsened. It seems Hunter hasn't found a place of forgiveness for her yet, no her him. If they have (and if they haven't) he's chosen not to write about it. Whether to protect her or their children, I can't be sure. He also goes into minute detail about his business dealings, especially his work with Burisma. None of it sounds shady, though I suspect it will always be a difficult task to make sense of paying any powerful man five figures a month to "consult" on anything. Shady or not. I found myself more interested in what Hunter wrote about the pressure to perform and make money, especially when him and Kathleen get married in a hurry after she becomes pregnant. They're in love and have a new baby, but the expectations of the life they want to live force both of them into hasty decisions that don't seem to allow for much happiness. Hunter writes about it but doesn't reflect on it deeply. I could've traded two or three of the Burisma pages for more on that. There's only a line or two about his child with a woman in Arkansas, whom he originally claimed was lying about his fathering her child. I'm sure this is a difficult topic, but in a memoir all about family with endless mentions of his four acknowledged children, it felt like a glaring omission. I suspect when his children are older and Joe is no longer the sitting president, we'll get another memoir. Hunter's writing is conversational and the pace is breakneck. Despite the aforementioned veneer, the tone is honest and consistent. Hunter's voice feels genuine, which is perhaps why I wanted more of it in the places where he was holding back. Again, I found myself identifying with his grief story. Not only his mother and sister, but brother Beau. Though I had ten more years with my mother than Hunter had with his, I too find her death wheedles holes into my life in unexpected ways. There are little griefs throughout everything I do, whether it's a medical paperwork I can't complete because I don't know the answer or her handwriting on the back of some old picture I pull out of a frame. I, too, have been loved and mothered by many others through out my life. And yet still... The medical arduousness of death is something Joe and Hunter both write about with acuity. I went through it with my mother, my grandmother, and again with my father, when he nearly died a year ago. It's hardly more than a day or two that goes by when I don't think about that day. My partner, Erik, and I went to lunch because I had the day off. We walked over to Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, to go to a Mexican restaurant we'd long lusted after. We sat on their patio in the sun for several hours until we went back home. I made my way up to our rooftop deck to read, but stopped to call my dad like I usually did on my off days. My dad might be dead today if I hadn't made that call. There were so many other things that could've gotten in the way. Maybe we stayed an extra hour at lunch. Maybe we stopped in one of the shops at Prospect Park, further delaying our trip home. Maybe I fell asleep on the couch. Maybe I decided to call him after I read a bit. Who knows what forces move the world? Who knows what made my stepmother answer after a single ring when I called her to say Dad seemed unwell. It's our family's inside joke that none of us know why my stepmom even has a cell phone, she answers it so infrequently. I found myself in this place again while Hunter wrote about being in the back seat of his mother's car that day. Right next to his brother. Because the fact is, he was in the backseat. I did call my dad. Both of them lived. A tale not always pretty, but in the end, beautiful in its way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    If you've followed the Bidens, grew up in their hometown of Scranton Pa or Delaware, and have known them most of your life through your connections via an ex-spouse who worked at OBP than you might feel akin to reading this memoir. However, for me it's nothing of what I expected and sadly have to agree it felt more like the '12 step meeting' as noted from an NPR review - than anything else. While my heart aches for this family that reminds me of the Kennedy's in some fashion with the horrific life If you've followed the Bidens, grew up in their hometown of Scranton Pa or Delaware, and have known them most of your life through your connections via an ex-spouse who worked at OBP than you might feel akin to reading this memoir. However, for me it's nothing of what I expected and sadly have to agree it felt more like the '12 step meeting' as noted from an NPR review - than anything else. While my heart aches for this family that reminds me of the Kennedy's in some fashion with the horrific life events it's in no way meant to diminish nor take away from the fact that we all have excessive situations in our life and sadly many of us succumb to them. In this case, Hunter is a victim of his own making. His drug use and consequently his own actions have led him down this path of destruction in which once addicted to crack and other hard core drugs the pathway to recovery becomes less familiar and more hardened. The breakaway with the death of his own family and their own pain didn't seem to stir the need to try to come clean though it's discussed. It reminds me of the ex spouse I divorced who claimed he wasn't a family man but would want credit for raising of his kids as he resided five steps away and wanted to be kept abreast to every iota of involvement with them yet couldn't remember their own birthdates. A better example would be when you place those war time hero photos for view of your family's veteran's but never spent a dime of time with your current family nor have memories of your past to cherish because of your lack of involvement with them. Framing pictures and placement upon walls for discussion about the family's accomplishments isn't quite the same as being present in the here and now. While I realize the father is the center of this whirlwind and we must paint an array of rainbows I would prefer a more intimate and personal reflection that was carefully and professionally administered and not something that was more about the 'me' syndrome. As with everything when trouble hits it doesn't effect just one but it ripples across the prairies. The fact that he addressed the implications of his actions upon the Biden 'brand' name was quite interesting but nothing that we wouldn't have already known or expected. It was very tampered down, very shadowed, and very dark and I was hoping something brighter, more precise, and more thoughtful. The continued drug use while as a parent in his later years also rubbed me raw. I have three kids. I was homeless after divorce and filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy as a direct result of living over a year without employment, housing, or income. I had a son that was medically disabled for life and we ate at food banks and watched strangers pick food out of garbage cans in a nearby park to feed themselves. We were tossed to the street like rag dolls, our utilities turned off, our ability to find employment cut off from the rest of the world after 20 years of being a homemaker to tend to a disabled child. We couldn't even get a doctor to sign off on a waiver to prevent our electricity from being turned off due to the disability and a current protection from abuse order because my son didn't need electricity to live. Therefore, we attended volunteering events at our local woman's shelter so as not to feel bitter but to feel gratitude that while we too were once homeless we found another path albeit with the aid of friends and family that weren't as wealthy as this family. I used to complain about having severe stenosis in my back with temporary paralysis upon my legs till I assisted a woman crossing the street with twisted legs so bad that she had to hold unto the metal bar that wrapped around our telephone pole in front of the church to elevate herself up to the curb level from the street. While I was told, "no" countless times in regards to being employable with a Masters, in extreme poverty, after raising my kids, I reflected upon those who were unable to be so lucky in having children and had tried adoption, infertility, surgery, and or found other means. The moral is to count those blessings. Not salivate on what might've been or could've been but what is and what you see before you is what you presently have to own. I mention all this because I was on the front line. Not of war - No- of the NICU unit as a grieving mother. I spent 2 months in the NICU alone praying for a miracle for my son born with vater syndrome for life. That son is now going to be 21 in November and will be graduating with high honors and all accolades with three honor societies this June. You see there's another family that was next to us that lost their baby. That baby was covered up by a sheet. That family had to go to another wing of the NICU to find solace and peace. Please don't throw your life away when you have so many things to be grateful for having. This is such a shame to see such self wallowing but we need to remember that hope springs eternal and it begins with God's children. Go forth and be the leader God intended you to be and do so with grace, dignity, and the mind to know that when God is for you nobody can be against you. It doesn't matter what others think of you. It only matters what you think of yourself.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie McCandless

    Get comfy; I have some thoughts. As I saw it, this book has three pieces. The first (and most successful, IMO) is the family story, about the early car crash that bonded Hunter, Beau, and Joe; the family's political journey; and Beau's illness and death. Hunter has the most insight here and demonstrates the most humanity, in no small part, I think, because it's ultimately about how he exists in the context of other people. How his relationship with Beau shaped him, and how Beau's death was like r Get comfy; I have some thoughts. As I saw it, this book has three pieces. The first (and most successful, IMO) is the family story, about the early car crash that bonded Hunter, Beau, and Joe; the family's political journey; and Beau's illness and death. Hunter has the most insight here and demonstrates the most humanity, in no small part, I think, because it's ultimately about how he exists in the context of other people. How his relationship with Beau shaped him, and how Beau's death was like removing a leg from a three-legged stool. It's beautifully written and deeply sad. You get a sense not just of Beau's meteoric potential, but also how beloved and essential he was in the Biden family. Second was my least favorite, but probably a necessary piece – when Hunter walks you through his resume and tap dances like mad to convince you that he's worthy. I don't care how hard you stamp your foot about going to Yale or advocating on behalf of Jesuit ministries, your unacknowledged privilege is still bursting at the seams and nobody's voting for you, my dude. He goes through the Burisma mess in excruciating detail. It's one of those things that's boring for people who don't see any there there (me) and probably inadequate for those who see a vast conspiracy (take a wild guess). Last, making up the bulk of the book, is the addiction story. There is this maxim of memoir that you can't/shouldn't write about something until you're adequately distanced from it to see it with the proper perspective. The perspective that Hunter Biden has about his addiction extends no further than about 2 centimeters from his own face. Honestly, I'm worried about the guy. This shit is so, so fresh. His lack of self-awareness and perspective is raw, compelling, and incredibly tenuous. Don't get me wrong; he is doing (part of) the work here. He is making a moral inventory of himself (4th step of AA), but he is not quite examining or admitting the exact nature of his wrongs (5th step). The result is a little hard to swallow. He regales the reader with tales of depravity with a kind of weaponized candor that can make addicts so dangerously charismatic. Brené Brown calls it floodlighting – when you share too much, too fast, too soon in order to protect yourself from real vulnerability. He talks a lot about how much he misses his family, his daughters in particular, without writing much of anything about how terrifying, destabilizing, and painful it must have been for them. He is quick to admit that he's at fault for putting distance between himself and his daughters, but that distance is still something that is happening to him. One of the most glaring omissions is the lack of recognition of how lucky (read: white, rich) he is not to be dead or in prison. He almost seems to chuckle as he describes buying crack in dangerous places, where his biggest worries were getting ripped off (it seems to be more a matter of principle than an actual financial concern), having to wait a long time in his car, and being mistaken for a cop. When he meets his current wife at the end of the book, he's still using. She helps him get clean, and they get married six days after their first date. I couldn't help but cringe and tried hard not to speculate about just how co-dependent his new wife is/was. I wish the guy (and his wife and new baby) all the best, and I sincerely hope it goes well for them. I am not optimistic. He clearly knows that he's not out of the woods yet, but I'm not sure he appreciates how few survival skills he possesses while he's still in there. I have known many Hunter Bidens. Whatever it is – drugs, religion, new love – they are all in. This kind of intensity can be extremely alluring, and when it comes along with a tragic backstory, downright irresistible. So how is it as a book? I may not have the best objectivity here, and it's hard for me to separate my assessment of the man from my assessment of his writing. He writes well. It's a good book. When he says he's going to be okay, I don't totally believe him.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jarrett Neal

    Rounded up from 4.5 stars. In many ways, Beautiful Things by Hunter Biden is a by-numbers addiction memoir. It contains deep reflections on the origins of Biden's alcoholism and crack addiction and descriptions of drug use, strung out behavior, and the seedy side of society that rival the best pulp fiction. Yet what makes this memoir stand apart is, obviously, the fact that its author is the only surviving son of a sitting president. I marvel not only at Hunter Biden's ability to climb out of the Rounded up from 4.5 stars. In many ways, Beautiful Things by Hunter Biden is a by-numbers addiction memoir. It contains deep reflections on the origins of Biden's alcoholism and crack addiction and descriptions of drug use, strung out behavior, and the seedy side of society that rival the best pulp fiction. Yet what makes this memoir stand apart is, obviously, the fact that its author is the only surviving son of a sitting president. I marvel not only at Hunter Biden's ability to climb out of the depths of his addiction and into sobriety but the fact that his rampant addiction was so well hidden from most of society. The Biden family is defined by tragedy. This memoir begins with Beau Biden's death from a brain tumor in 2015--an event that triggered one of Hunter's darkest plunges into addiction--and recounts the car accident that took the lives of his biological mother and infant sister. From the start, the Biden brothers fell into prototypical roles of golden boy (Beau) and bad boy (Hunter), though their father and stepmother had nothing to do with that. (I should note that President Biden is largely confined to the periphery of this memoir, so anyone hoping to get a chance to see him in a bad or unguarded light is out of luck.) Hunter Biden is a man who just couldn't cope with life. While he idolized his brother, who was a stabilizing force in his life, sometimes even more than their father, Beau's death at such a young age was too much for Hunter to bear. This memoir chronicles his deep slide from alcohol dependent to full-blown alcoholic and occasional cocaine user to extreme crackhead. The strength of Beautiful Things is Hunter Biden's decision to hold nothing back. Throughout the book, I couldn't fathom how a man who had everything anyone could want, a man who was born into one of the most powerful families in the nation, could sink so low. This is man earning obscene amounts of money who hobnobs with world leaders one day then finds himself strung out in a Super 8 motel the next. This book is full of salacious details, and Biden owns his behavior. From driving to the hood to score hard (the street name for crack), to hiding out in posh LA hotels while lowlife parasites rob him blind, this is the story of an addict who does everything he can to obliterate himself. I tried to read the book objectively. Actually, I listened to it on audiobook, and I encourage others to do the same so that they can hear the brokenness in Hunter Biden's voice. Readers will want to judge him for his many poor decisions, not the least of which is having a relationship with his brother's widow mere months after his death, and marrying his current wife a week after they met while he was coming off a crack fugue. He also glosses over fathering a baby in 2019 with a woman he barely knew, also while he was on one of his cross country benders. But again, readers shouldn't pick up Beautiful Things to judge the author or his family. The main lesson I got from the book is that addiction is evil and insidious, and no family is immune.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy Cadorin

    I decided to pick up this memoir after listening to Hunter speak on the podcast WTF by Marc Maron. The lackadaisical way Hunter spoke about his past history with drugs (crack), alcohol and his multiple visits to rehab some how lured me into purchasing this memoir with such an urgency to read. I gave this novel a 4.5 stars, I found it to be a book about his deceased brother Beau and his incessant drug addiction rather than an actual memoir about his own life. The chapters about his drug use were v I decided to pick up this memoir after listening to Hunter speak on the podcast WTF by Marc Maron. The lackadaisical way Hunter spoke about his past history with drugs (crack), alcohol and his multiple visits to rehab some how lured me into purchasing this memoir with such an urgency to read. I gave this novel a 4.5 stars, I found it to be a book about his deceased brother Beau and his incessant drug addiction rather than an actual memoir about his own life. The chapters about his drug use were very enthusiastically written, as were the party's that he would throw in his luxurious hotel and motel rooms, with the parades of criminals and drug users who frequently used him, stole his money and provided him with the constant flow of drugs for what appeared to be his limitless habit of overdoing it. Which I suppose is what a habitual drug addict does. I felt that this memoir was almost an homage to his deceased brother, but also simultaneously providing the public with a blueprint of his steady downward spiral after his brothers death. It also provided Hunter the ability to clear his name of whatever conspiracy theories are out there, that the former President of the United States publicized during the election as a means to tarnish the Biden name. "When you see those doubts and questions in the eyes of the person you're supposed to love the most, it breaks you in half." This quote was one that resonated with me and appeared at the end of the memoir. Because its true. Your soul definitely does break in half when the person who you trust the most to believe in you, doesn't. Sometimes this causes fear and doubt in your mind, leading you to question yourself, your own motives and abilities. This, I felt was Hunter's issue throughout the memoir, not only did he not believe in himself, but when someone appeared to be doubting him, it fed all of his insecurities, which inevitably caused him to relapse and use the only thing that didn't fail him.... Drugs. I also felt throughout this novel and his writing that he never properly grieved the loss of his brother, who clearly was his soulmate, best friend and confidant. This seemed to have led him down the spiral of drug and alcohol abuse, as he was never able to let go of his past traumatic experiences. Hunter clearly had some issues after the death of his mother and sister, but also being in the back seat and surviving- his survivors remorse was never addressed in his adulthood. Drugs were his way of addressing whatever remorse he felt after the car accident, but also after the death of his brother Beau. Although Hunter does address his relationships with his family, children and wives, he doesn't really make them the "star" of the novel- this memoir in a nutshell is about Beau, Alcohol, Crack and Rehab. After finishing this memoir, I have a greater respect for the Biden family, but also high hopes that Hunter will continue to be clean and will continue to pursue his dreams of art and writing. Good Luck Hunter.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Nale

    I love memoirs. I love listening to someone tell their "story". This particular memoir left me with divided feelings. I really wanted to understand how a man like Hunter, from a loving, family grounded in faith, who had been given a solid foundation for living a good life, could be so totally devastated and sadly derailed by drugs and immoral living. Not just once, or twice, or even three times. More than I care to go back and count from the description in the book. Yes, he lost his mother in a I love memoirs. I love listening to someone tell their "story". This particular memoir left me with divided feelings. I really wanted to understand how a man like Hunter, from a loving, family grounded in faith, who had been given a solid foundation for living a good life, could be so totally devastated and sadly derailed by drugs and immoral living. Not just once, or twice, or even three times. More than I care to go back and count from the description in the book. Yes, he lost his mother in a car accident at a young age. Many people have such losses, and work through them in a healthy manner, especially if they have the same benefits that Hunter had. Family support. The church family and its additional support. A father who was well-known and respected and whose friends in Congress took special interest in and care of the two boys whose mother was killed. I know drug addiction is a killer, a dead-end escape from the pain of reality. I know it is extremely difficult to kick the habit, be it smoking, drinking, eating, working out, etc. Hunter chose the easy way through life's problems, and drugged himself to oblivion. Rehab once, rehab twice, again, again. How many relapses? Then bragging about how he knew the right words to say, the right way to play the game of rehab. He learned how to LIE and how to do it well. Which is why I don't believe him. Even more sad is the way he sounds as if he is bragging about how good he was at being a bad boy. He opens Chapter 9 in this way: “I used my superpower – finding crack anytime, anywhere". He described himself as “going without sleep, being up 24 hours a day, smoking every 15 minutes, 7 days a week. The amount of alcohol I consumed and crack I smoked was astounding – even death-defying.” Doesn't that sound like bragging? Maybe bragging is the wrong word. When the book ended, I looked up, stared at the birds prancing outside my window, and said sadly to the empty air, "I'm sorry, but I don't believe the man. I believe he is still lying." I hope he is not. I hope he IS sober, and IS in love, and IS being a good father now. I have read that he is painting, pictures, I suppose. That he paints all day every day. Is he retired? Does he work? Buying Crack as he did for so long had to be very expensive from what little I know about that habit. Does he have unlimited funds? Is he making a living from painting? Lots of questions I'd like to ask. Perhaps he'll write another book? I won't buy it, but I'll get it from the library. I honestly DO wish him the best. I just do not believe much of what he says. I don't trust him. I don't think this book reveals the real, authentic Hunter Biden. The one his wife sees at day's end. I hope the interview I saw of him talking about this book showed the real Hunter Biden. Calm. Confident. At peace with himself and the world. Amen.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Valentino

    Loss, Addiction, Redemption (Hopefully) Over the last few years of white hot rampaging politics few individuals have been maligned as much as Hunter Biden. In fact, so intense and distorted has his portrait been painted that the public would not know, unless they took the time to dig behind the lurid headlines, how educated and accomplished is Hunter, even while alternating between wallowing in and fighting against alcohol and crack cocaine additions. This memoir puts things on a more even keel, Loss, Addiction, Redemption (Hopefully) Over the last few years of white hot rampaging politics few individuals have been maligned as much as Hunter Biden. In fact, so intense and distorted has his portrait been painted that the public would not know, unless they took the time to dig behind the lurid headlines, how educated and accomplished is Hunter, even while alternating between wallowing in and fighting against alcohol and crack cocaine additions. This memoir puts things on a more even keel, ends on a high note of hope, and leaves sympathetic readers hoping he has finally found the wherewithal to stay sober. Three things standout in this harrowing recounting of his life to date. First and foremost is the hell of addiction. Hunter details the addict’s life with painful fierceness. He provides readers with a real-life window into just how addiction takes over and controls a life to the point where nothing matters more than satisfying the habit. Most people have never suffered from addiction and so have little idea of how it can run and ruin your life. Yet, understanding the overpowering nature of substance abuse has never been more important with drug addiction and subsequent death rampant in this country. These folks aren’t a bunch of lowlifes; these people are your friends and neighbors who for various personal reasons get caught up in a spiral sometimes leading to death but always leading to ostracism. Hunter’s recounting presents you with an opportunity to feel what it is like without yourself getting addicted. Second is the pain of loss. Sometimes unless you have lost someone especially close and meaningful to you, grief over an extended time might strike you as an indulgence. Hunter and Beau Biden were as close as if they were twins, and his description of them as boys and men joined together is a beautiful thing to behold. You get the sense that few relationships could bear up to that Hunter enjoyed with his brother, and you can appreciate how Beau’s early death could send Hunter into a death defying tailspin. Third is the importance of family, especially a strong and patient father. Hunter’s story isn’t just about Hunter but about a family that despite how low he sunk stood by him, never rejected him. Most of all, it’s about a father’s love, true love for a prodigal son, a son who often put the father’s career in jeopardy. There are no saints in this world but given a choice who would not chose a father like Joe Biden? If you like Joe, you’ll like him even more after reading Beautiful Things. If you were lukewarm about him, you may find yourself actually liking, especially if you ask and honestly answer the question: could I have shown as much strength? This memoir is worth your time for these reasons, as well as how Hunter Biden faces up to and tells his story frankly and honestly.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lizanne

    Listened to this one, finishing it abt a week ago. Hunter Biden narrates. This is abt 2 stars for literary merit. The best chapters offer an insightful depiction of the life of a junkie and the son of a career politician (in that order). Really, this earns 2 and 1/2 stars. The opening two chapters are a painful and sloppy remembrance of Beau Biden, shown as a charming, caring man without faults. In varied ways, Hunter recounts how wonderful his brother was, how he (Hunter) never measured up, and Listened to this one, finishing it abt a week ago. Hunter Biden narrates. This is abt 2 stars for literary merit. The best chapters offer an insightful depiction of the life of a junkie and the son of a career politician (in that order). Really, this earns 2 and 1/2 stars. The opening two chapters are a painful and sloppy remembrance of Beau Biden, shown as a charming, caring man without faults. In varied ways, Hunter recounts how wonderful his brother was, how he (Hunter) never measured up, and what it was like to grow up Biden. Over and over, he rehashes this two-sided coin trope. I almost stopped listening. Hunter comes off here and elsewhere as self-absorbed and in love with his family’s mythology, seeing his clan in a Kennedyesque light. There are also memories of losing his mother, who he calls “Mommy.” Jill Biden is “Mom.” It’s hard to hear a grown man say “Mommy” repeatedly. It’s clear that Joe Biden was a dedicated, down-to-earth dad. Hunter had all the advantages growing up, including a grounding in a working class state and access to the Capital lifestyle. It seems he can’t decide which way to shape this narrative so he rocks back and forth bw the two. Some of this background feels like it’s for publicity purposes. The book only kicks into gear when Hunter relapses and spends the next several years dedicating his life to drugs. He writes candidly and w salient details about the people he met, the many hotels, the one-track pursuit. Over and over, he seems to be emerging into a yoga-practicing, nature guy with political savvy only to be sucked back in. Biden skims over his relationship w his former sister-in-law after his brother’s death. The lack of detail there may actually be a kindness to her. He talks about Burisma and the Trump campaign with barely contained disgust. And he hammers his ex-wife every chance he gets. This was probably the most irksome tendency, to show how his ex-wife kept him from their three daughters, thereby stymying his recovery. The chapters about his relapses support her side even as he finds fault with her. In the end, I didn’t much like or admire Hunter Biden. I expected to find this more like Tweak with an older narrator, I suppose—the kind of story where you find the drug-addicted person maddening but also authentic (okay, Tweak is fiction based on a real story but the character had more depth than this person recounting his experience). This book is valuable for its insight to the daily plight of the junkie, to the nightmare of addiction in the life of a privileged person (and he is never homeless or on the streets). It also — as Hunter says he wants to — notes where he is responsible and what he did to relieve his father of that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    E.

    I will preface this by saying that, not until Trump started attacking Hunter Biden in the 2020 presidential election, I hadn't the faintest clue the makeup of Joe Biden's family and history (other than that he was VP for eight years and a former Senator from Delaware), let alone who Hunter Biden was or what he supposedly did or didn't do with Burisma and addiction and affairs, etc. After reading this book, my opinion is that the entire Trump circle is truly demonic and heinous beyond redemption. I will preface this by saying that, not until Trump started attacking Hunter Biden in the 2020 presidential election, I hadn't the faintest clue the makeup of Joe Biden's family and history (other than that he was VP for eight years and a former Senator from Delaware), let alone who Hunter Biden was or what he supposedly did or didn't do with Burisma and addiction and affairs, etc. After reading this book, my opinion is that the entire Trump circle is truly demonic and heinous beyond redemption. I will start off by saying that, as in every memoir, there's always a degree of salesmanship to it. Every author is trying to portray him or herself in a manner that he or she thinks is most likeable to the readers. I went into this book recognizing that reality, and tried to guard against it and temper my opinion of the author. That said, I finished this book and thought that the love story between Hunter Biden and his deceased brother Beau Biden to be one of the most touching stories I have ever read. I genuinely felt for him when he lost his brother. His descent into drug and alcohol addiction, to me at least, seems almost inevitable, given the void that Beau Biden's death had on Hunter Biden. In many instances, I was nearly moved to tears reading about that loss (and this is coming from someone who didn't cry during Titanic!) Aside from the sibling relationship between Beau and Hunter Biden, the memoir also covered his descent into alcohol and drug addiction. If I have any criticism of this memoir, it would be here. Hunter Biden did a phenomenal job capturing the intimate details of what being a crack addict is like, every sentence and every paragraph were hard hitting. However, as a reader, there is only so much of those hard hitting punches you can take. Half of the memoir is spent on his drug addiction alone, and by the time I was done with that portion, I felt exhausted, and it felt like a guest overstaying his welcome. Instead of spending so much time charting his numerous attempts at rehab or numerous close calls with drugdealers, I wish the memoir would touch on other aspects of his life, like his relationship with his father. All that said, the memoir is a fantastic read, and I am glad that Hunter found his way out of the wilderness, and I am glad that, in the larger scheme of things, men like Joe Biden could win against the likes of Trump and his ilk, men who delighted in taking someone's struggle against drug addiction and weaponize it in the political arena to score cheap points. Good on you Hunter, for proving them wrong.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Snow-White

    First and foremost: I am not a fan of Joey Biden or his family. That said, other than a couple of mentions, I will attempt (this will be extremely difficult for me) to put my thoughts about this book into white space without injecting politics. Let me start by saying the very beginning of this book, read by the Author, begins with "Where's Hunter?" comparing this, of course, to "Where's Waldo?," red & white hat and all, followed by the obvious, "I'm right here." My initial thought was (because I' First and foremost: I am not a fan of Joey Biden or his family. That said, other than a couple of mentions, I will attempt (this will be extremely difficult for me) to put my thoughts about this book into white space without injecting politics. Let me start by saying the very beginning of this book, read by the Author, begins with "Where's Hunter?" comparing this, of course, to "Where's Waldo?," red & white hat and all, followed by the obvious, "I'm right here." My initial thought was (because I'm the opposite of a Biden fan) listening to this book (again, read by the Author) would be painful, to say the least. I was wrong. Having said that, this book is more of a biography of Hunter's older (by 1 yr. & 1 day) brother Beau. Injected into the tragic beginning, and ending, of the Biden brothers is the introduction of alcohol and drug abuse. Many of the other reviews saw this as the backbone, the meat-and-potatoes, if you will, of this book. I strenuously disagree. If a book on alcoholism, substance abuse & the chaos it brings into a family is what you're looking for, let me suggest "Less Than Zero" by Bret Easton Ellis. Hunter has, at the most, been "sober" for approx. 1 yr. and while he describes many unflattering encounters in not-so vivid detail with drugs and alcohol, he leaves out the massive salaries he earned to make it all possible. This book reads like a self-serving pity-party with the tourette's-like inclusion of President Trump. We can all agree that if not for President Trump this book would never have been written. This book is not a "tell-all," you won't learn anything new about the Biden family. This book is not even what I would title a "memoir" of the author (IF he, in fact, wrote it), it's more like a biography of the successful brother, written by the awkward middle child in an attempt to bring about the much-needed attention he craves, even more so than the 5th of vodka and a baggie of rock he really wants/needs. I would venture a guess that those who LOVED this book and those who didn't love this book could be divided using the same line as those drawn between the two main political parties in America. The left will LOVE and adore it, the right will see it for the attention-seeking, open letter to a deceased brother that it is.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    There were parts of this book that broke my heart, specifically around the relationship between Hunter, Beau, and their father Joe. Losing Beau was clearly devastating, especially given their childhood bond built early through shared unimaginable tragedy and trauma. Listening to the audiobook version and hearing Hunter Biden’s broken voice really gives the listener a powerful insight into the grief, addiction, desperation, shame, and self-destruction that have plagued his adult life. While Hunte There were parts of this book that broke my heart, specifically around the relationship between Hunter, Beau, and their father Joe. Losing Beau was clearly devastating, especially given their childhood bond built early through shared unimaginable tragedy and trauma. Listening to the audiobook version and hearing Hunter Biden’s broken voice really gives the listener a powerful insight into the grief, addiction, desperation, shame, and self-destruction that have plagued his adult life. While Hunter and every human being deserves compassion and care, especially given the amount of tragedy he has faced in his life, he is also a man born into extreme privilege. As the book delves into his spiral from alcoholism to crack cocaine, he is given, time and time again, access to the best treatment money can buy. Exclusive rehab centers, stays at spa resorts, experimental hallucinogenic trials, you name it, he was given the help. And every time, he relapsed almost immediately, without any seeming attempt to stay sober. The accounts of his days on the street talk over and over again about dealers stealing from him, taking advantage of him, how he was too trusting, etc. He speaks almost lovingly about these benders, a kind of addiction porn. Hunter takes advantage of his privilege. When he is caught with crack in his car, he is let go. When he is driving completely high and loses control of his car, driving straight across the highway onto oncoming traffic, nothing happens to him. All those dealings with China, Ukraine, and Russia? I didn’t think much of them when Trump was screaming about them, but when Hunter tried to explain them away they sound pretty underhanded. The illegitimate child? Briefly mentioned. The damage he did to his wife of 20 years and his three daughters? The relationship with Beau’s widow? The shotgun marriage and new baby with a woman he met coming off a bender? Hunter doesn’t really seem to be dealing with the core of his issues. He talks a lot about behaviors, how it feels to be an addict, and about all of the people who “saved” him. What he never mentions, and the reason that I unfortunately predict another relapse, is that he needs to take the steps to deal with his own grief, to do the hard work, to face his trauma with a therapist and heal from that — he can not rely on his brother, his father, a woman, or a drug, to save him. This man needs to help himself, and that is the hard truth for any addiction. He has all of the resources in the world at his fingertips. I wish him well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Murray

    Beautifully written. Listened to it on audible. Poignant. Raw. Brought tears dripping heavily down my cheeks in the first 30 minutes. The book is an intersection of love, tragedy, grief, addiction, politics and a battle between good and evil, existing inside the human heart and politics. It is in many ways a love story to Beau, to his Dad and to his current wife Melissa, who must have surely been sent to him to save him from his awful addiction to crack. The book also brought back memories of Tru Beautifully written. Listened to it on audible. Poignant. Raw. Brought tears dripping heavily down my cheeks in the first 30 minutes. The book is an intersection of love, tragedy, grief, addiction, politics and a battle between good and evil, existing inside the human heart and politics. It is in many ways a love story to Beau, to his Dad and to his current wife Melissa, who must have surely been sent to him to save him from his awful addiction to crack. The book also brought back memories of Trump trying to embarrass then Vice President Biden during their one shameful debate about Hunter’s addiction. It was cruelty personified. And what was President Biden’s reply? He said, “I’m proud of my son.” During Hunter’s downfall into the abyss of crack addiction, Trump tried to paint Hunter into the annals of history as an untouchable, a reason to reject Biden’s candidacy. Trump used Hunter as a symbol of political corruption, even as he manufactured the stories about Burisma, in his imitated Roy Cohn way, attempting to derail Biden’s campaign for President. It didn’t work. And today, the FBI carried out a search warrant on Giuliani’s home and office. Rudy was Trump’s henchman going after Hunter. But he may have cooked his own goose dealing in dirty tricks...we’ll see what the case against him finds. In the end, the book left me with a feeling that we need more humility and truth in this world, more honesty about addiction and more forgiveness and love. This book is a great example of that. If you believe in God, if you believe that those brought low by life or circumstance can be redeemed if they are truly humble, truly honest about what they have done and truly wanting reconciliation, than this book’s for you. It also exposes Trump’s evil beautifully and the goodness that is Joe Biden’s heart. We are lucky to have him as President. His love for Hunter prevailed over the drugs & Trump’s attempt to bring him down. In the end, the good guy one. And, Hunter, a graduate of Georgetown and Yale, with years of career success prior to his descent into drugs is happily married, with a new baby named after his dead brother and has taken up painting. Love wins.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Clarisse Peralta

    I've always believed that every human has the capacity for both "good" and "bad" - whatever society defines this to be, and that what causes one side to prevail often depends on the severity of the cards that we are dealt with. That said, not everyone is as able or as "strong" to win against their demons, and it would be extremely unfair to judge an addict without first understanding his or her story in full. Life is messy, and to deny that messiness would be to deny one's humanity. I first lea I've always believed that every human has the capacity for both "good" and "bad" - whatever society defines this to be, and that what causes one side to prevail often depends on the severity of the cards that we are dealt with. That said, not everyone is as able or as "strong" to win against their demons, and it would be extremely unfair to judge an addict without first understanding his or her story in full. Life is messy, and to deny that messiness would be to deny one's humanity. I first learned of Hunter's life through the New Yorker piece that he cites in the later chapter of this memoir. It was extremely well-written and so honest that from then on, I became curious about how he perceived his own life. It seemed so easy for the media to put him in a box and rattle off the "wrong" that he had done, as we often do to those who do not adhere to certain standards or live up to the expectations of their famous last name. I appreciate that Hunter is not at all vengeful in his writing or trying to clear his reputation, though I would've wanted there to be less focus on Trump's jabs at him. This memoir gives Hunter the space to speak his truth, and he does so with incredible sincerity that you can't help but root for him while reading through his relapses. During those chapters, I often wondered if he would ever claw his way out of the dark place he was in. It's ironic - I couldn't put this book down and devoured it in just three days, but it is also not for the faint of heart. I could see it being particularly triggering for those who have battled some form of substance abuse as he narrates those experiences quite vividly. I also enjoyed Hunter's writing immensely and felt the extent of his struggle, especially the impact that losing Beau had on him. My admiration for the Biden family tripled as well because not once did I feel (as a reader) that they gave up on Hunter's rehabilitation. His father's answer was always of compassion - a reminder that love, kindness, and understanding can ultimately be the saving grace that triumphs over tragedy, pain, and unimaginable loss. Hunter may be flawed and imperfect, but one thing he can be proud of is that he is unapologetically real. For that, I applaud him. Can't recommend this book enough!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matt Schiavenza

    I finished Hunter Biden's memoir "Beautiful Things" a month ago. Usually, I jot down my thoughts on books I finish right away. But "Beautiful Things" is different. The basic outline of Hunter's life is well-known. He is President Biden's second son, born a year and a day after his brother Beau. As a toddler, he and his brother were injured in a car accident that killed their mother and baby sister. His father was sworn into the Senate from their hospital bed. As an adult, Hunter married young and I finished Hunter Biden's memoir "Beautiful Things" a month ago. Usually, I jot down my thoughts on books I finish right away. But "Beautiful Things" is different. The basic outline of Hunter's life is well-known. He is President Biden's second son, born a year and a day after his brother Beau. As a toddler, he and his brother were injured in a car accident that killed their mother and baby sister. His father was sworn into the Senate from their hospital bed. As an adult, Hunter married young and had three children, became a lawyer, and dabbled in business — most famously when he joined the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, when his father served as U.S. vice president. President Trump and the right-wing media attempted to turn this into a major scandal during the 2020 campaign, but it didn't really take. Indeed, Hunter insists in "Beautiful Thing" that he didn't do anything wrong, and whether or not you believe him, it's hard to argue that what he did constituted a scandal by Trump's own standards. But Burisma is only a small part of "Beautiful Things." Much of the book is a paean to Beau, who died of cancer at age 46 in 2015. Hunter lived in Beau's shadow his whole life, and he writes about his brother in reverential tones — much in the same way that President Biden refers to his deceased son. Beau and Hunter were so inseparable that they even acquired a nickname "BeauandHunt." But there was one difference between the two. Hunter drank, and Beau didn't. The rest of "Beautiful Things" is a memoir of addiction, and it's here where I find it difficult to evaluate Hunter's book; for I myself am an addict, and one of the tenets of recovery is to not pass judgment on another addict's life. What I will say is that Hunter writes about his experiences with alcohol and crack with remarkable candor, and he does not shy away from taking responsibility for what he's done. The second half of "Beautiful Things" contains some eye-catching details: Hunter shared an apartment with a homeless dealer, Hunter went AWOL for weeks between stints in rehab, Hunter cruised the streets of Nashville or Los Angeles in search of crack. "Beautiful Things" is structured, like many accounts of addiction, as a redemption story: Hunter eventually meets a woman, falls in love, and stops using. They're now married with a young child. But this section of Hunter's memoir occurs only at the very end, underscoring the recency of this development in his life. (He was still using even after his father launched his high-profile presidential campaign in 2019) and the tidy way he wraps this story up did leave me wanting to know more. There are two ways to look at Hunter's story. One is that his status as a handsome, well-educated white man from a prominent family inoculated him from the worst consequences of his self-destructive behavior — it's the story of a recipient of a thousand opportunities to start over. But "Beautiful Things" is also the story of a little boy who lost his mother and sister in a terrible car accident, who grew up in the shadow of a brother clearly groomed to be his father's successor, who inherited the Biden family's predilection toward addiction and couldn't figure out how to stop, and who lost his brother and best friend of a terrible form of cancer decades when both were still young. When Joe Biden was running for president, it was said that he had lived both the luckiest and unluckiest of lives. The same can be said about his only surviving son.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary Sisney

    I assumed Hunter’s book would be interesting, and it was. Ironically, the only dull section for me was the one dealing with the Burisma mess, partly because I knew some of those details, but more because I’m not that interested in international business, especially energy companies. I am, however, interested in states and learned quite a bit more about Delaware from reading Hunter’s memoir than I did from reading the ones by his parents. But the most interesting sections of the book dealt with h I assumed Hunter’s book would be interesting, and it was. Ironically, the only dull section for me was the one dealing with the Burisma mess, partly because I knew some of those details, but more because I’m not that interested in international business, especially energy companies. I am, however, interested in states and learned quite a bit more about Delaware from reading Hunter’s memoir than I did from reading the ones by his parents. But the most interesting sections of the book dealt with his descent into drugs and alcohol. Hunter describes his ordeal graphically and effectively, introducing some intriguing personalities, most notably a middle-aged, homeless black woman named Rhea, a fellow, but more experienced, crack addict. The fact that Rhea was so protective (while also taking advantage of him) of the blue-eyed, much more privileged Hunter suggests that he is a genuinely decent, not racist guy. It’s clear what went wrong in his life. In addition to having to deal with the traumas of the loss of his mother and baby sister when he was a toddler, his father’s public humiliation during an overblown political scandal when he was a teenager, followed quickly by his father’s two health crises, Hunter married too young, had too many financial responsibilities, including helping his older brother as well as sending three daughters to private school, and he was in the wrong career(s). He should have pursued his interests in writing and art. Maybe he can now, although I’m a little nervous about the second wife. This time he may have married too fast, and it’s a tad disturbing that he fell in love with her because she has his late brother’s eyes. Whatever happens, Hunter is a troubled, but very compassionate, honorable man (like his father) who deserves a happier life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tomas

    The book started okay with his recollection of Bo and his upbringing. But he totally lost all credibility when he minimized the Joe Biden plagiarism and lying scandals during his first presidential run. Loosely based off a speech? BS! Not only did Joey plagiarize the speech almost word for word, he was lying on his campaign trail about his credentials, education, upbringing, civil rights involvement, the circumstances behind his wife's death, etc. One thing is for sure - when Hunter said a scanda The book started okay with his recollection of Bo and his upbringing. But he totally lost all credibility when he minimized the Joe Biden plagiarism and lying scandals during his first presidential run. Loosely based off a speech? BS! Not only did Joey plagiarize the speech almost word for word, he was lying on his campaign trail about his credentials, education, upbringing, civil rights involvement, the circumstances behind his wife's death, etc. One thing is for sure - when Hunter said a scandal of plagiarism wouldn't even matter today, he was spot on. Clearly, the American public and the media don't give a crap if you're being lied to your face as long as it's coming from their political side. We allowed social media and mainstream news to bury opposition research against Biden while they campaigned on behalf of Biden to push every potential and unverified scandal against Trump. Hunter is a gaslighter, just like his father, and wants you to believe he's the victim in all of this. Which is buffoonery. I understand that most people are good and want to sympathize with a person in pain, and Hunter has gone through much of it. However, this does not excuse his BS behavior. it doesn't make him upstanding, it doesn't make him a role model, and it definitely doesn't warrant him getting one of the only Management deals with the Chinese government... But it seems that all it takes to get public support, no matter the degeneracy, is to come out with a self pitying book and be bolstered by the media complex. When did people stop being able to see through all the bullshit...?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie Roche

    This book is harrowing in many parts and shocking in others. The descriptions of Beau’s life, illness and death were especially moving. And his accounts of drug binges and his struggle to stay sober are powerful. How this intelligent, well-educated man from a high-profile family could fall so far from grace is astounding. But Biden does a fantastic job of illustrating his life as an addict. He explains in great depth what smoking cocaine feels like, and how it helped him escape his pain. Which a This book is harrowing in many parts and shocking in others. The descriptions of Beau’s life, illness and death were especially moving. And his accounts of drug binges and his struggle to stay sober are powerful. How this intelligent, well-educated man from a high-profile family could fall so far from grace is astounding. But Biden does a fantastic job of illustrating his life as an addict. He explains in great depth what smoking cocaine feels like, and how it helped him escape his pain. Which answers the question of why a man with such potential would throw it away on drugs. For all his faults, he is honest. Even though he thinks before he acts and takes responsibility after the fact. The book also shows Joe Biden to be a caring, accepting but perhaps permissive father. Joe is unflinchingly patient with his son. He stands by him through his drug addiction and gives his blessing when he elopes with his current wife. None of this could have been easy, given how much Hunter puts his father through. The book does have some negatives. First, it’s waffly in sections, especially in the chapters about Hunter’s early life. Hunter also overlooks some serious issues in his life. Just two sentences are devoted to his love child with a stripper. For a man who talks so much about the value of family, this child doesn’t seem to count. As well, he is overly defensive. He describes his work for Burisma as a “loud and unmistakeable fuck you to Putin”. Biden wasn’t doing some fantastic humanitarian work by taking the position. It was short-sighted to take the job. Although, he admits he liked the money too. It’d be better if he admitted it was a mistake and moved on.

  21. 4 out of 5

    LT

    Beautifully written literary memoir distinguished by sharply etched character studies. In its pages, Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, explores his addictions to alcohol and crack cocaine in the context of his relationship with his older brother, the late Beau Biden, and his father. The emotional heart of book is the bond between Beau and Hunter Biden, forged in the aftermath of the car accident that killed their mother and infant sister. While Hunter rejects that early trauma as the seat of his add Beautifully written literary memoir distinguished by sharply etched character studies. In its pages, Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, explores his addictions to alcohol and crack cocaine in the context of his relationship with his older brother, the late Beau Biden, and his father. The emotional heart of book is the bond between Beau and Hunter Biden, forged in the aftermath of the car accident that killed their mother and infant sister. While Hunter rejects that early trauma as the seat of his addictions, it is clear that he is beset by the anxieties that it triggered. But there’s worse to come. Beau’s 2015 death from brain cancer propels Hunter’s addictive behavior from serious to catastrophic. Biden’s portrayal of his addictions to crack and liquor is searing, albeit leavened with wry, self-directed sarcasm. He understandably explores his addiction from the narrow and self-focused perspective of an addict, whose world is centered on the next fix or the next drink. Throughout, Joe Biden is depicted as a stalwart and anguished father, desperate but largely powerless to help his son. The self-focused aspect of Hunter Biden’s race to the bottom is underscored by his attenuated and superficial discussion of how his addiction affects others, even as his marriage crumbles, his business falters and his children and father despair. While this will understandably disappoint many readers, it is also characteristic of the solipsistic grip of severe addiction. Biden’s memoir concludes as he embarks on the latest of many efforts to achieve sobriety. The reader, by now wary and anxious about the strength and tenacity of his illness, fervently wishes him well.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    There are books I read just to be ready to have water-cooler conversations again some day. That was pretty much the case here. I got more than I expected. Early on in his memoir, Biden writes: "I'm not going anywhere. I'm not a curio or a sideshow to a moment in history, as all the cartoonish attacks try to paint me. I'm not Billy Carter or Roger Clinton, God bless them. I'm not Eric Trump or Donald Trump, Jr. I've worked for someone other than my father. Rose and fell on my own. This book will e There are books I read just to be ready to have water-cooler conversations again some day. That was pretty much the case here. I got more than I expected. Early on in his memoir, Biden writes: "I'm not going anywhere. I'm not a curio or a sideshow to a moment in history, as all the cartoonish attacks try to paint me. I'm not Billy Carter or Roger Clinton, God bless them. I'm not Eric Trump or Donald Trump, Jr. I've worked for someone other than my father. Rose and fell on my own. This book will establish that." And it does. I'm not a fan of addiction memoirs. They're all tragic, and every story is the same. But there are addicts and there are ADDICTS. Biden is the latter. And it is heartbreaking. No one would choose this. This is not a matter of mere willpower. This is a horrible and insidious disease. My heart breaks for Hunter Biden and his family. My respect for Joe and Jill Biden is even greater. How their family has suffered! Mr. Biden spares no detail of his descent and depravity while in the grips of his addiction. It is HARROWING! He drags himself so thoroughly through the mud, there is nothing left for his father's opponents to mine. He speaks candidly and convincingly of the various scandals that have dogged his heels. He ends his memoir clean and sober in a positive place, but no one who has read the preceding 300 pages can feel secure about his future. There's nothing pretty about the story Biden tells. I'm not left thinking, "What a great guy!" But his tale is very, very humanizing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    Picture a hard-core crack addict. I'm talking about someone who literally lives only for that next hit of crack. Someone who leaves the room every twenty minutes to smoke more crack. Someone who allows legions of complete strangers to rip him off to the tune of many thousands of dollars and doesn't care, as long as the crack keeps rolling in. What comes to mind? Do you picture a Yale Law graduate? An esteemed board member of multiple organizations? A guy who was paid a monthly five-figure salary Picture a hard-core crack addict. I'm talking about someone who literally lives only for that next hit of crack. Someone who leaves the room every twenty minutes to smoke more crack. Someone who allows legions of complete strangers to rip him off to the tune of many thousands of dollars and doesn't care, as long as the crack keeps rolling in. What comes to mind? Do you picture a Yale Law graduate? An esteemed board member of multiple organizations? A guy who was paid a monthly five-figure salary to be on the board of a foreign oil company? A person who grew up with all the advantages? Private schools, exciting vacations, and a large extended family so shot through with love that you wish you were part of it? No? Not what you were picturing? Me niether. Meet Hunter Biden. After years of struggling with alcohol addiction, he moved on to crack cocaine, and set off down a path of self destruction that should have killed him on multiple occasions. Had he not met Melissa when he did, he probably would have died, causing unbearable grief to his family. Reading about addiction makes me a bit squirmy because it's so baffling to me that someone would willingly do that to themselves. But the way Hunter has written his story helps us feel compassion for those whose chemistry drives that compulsion to keep chasing the feeling of well-being that banishes pain and anxiety. I'm so glad Hunter got a happy ending, and I wish only good things for him as he continues his life of recovery.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gerry

    After reading and hearing so much about Hunter Biden during the 2020 election campaign, it was interesting to learn about him from his own memoir. I particularly enjoyed the early chapters about his childhood in Delaware with the extended family that rallied together to support Joe Biden and his sons after the car accident that took Neila Biden and her infant daughter. Hunter poignantly described his close relationship with his brother Beau, and the painful circumstances of Beau's final illness After reading and hearing so much about Hunter Biden during the 2020 election campaign, it was interesting to learn about him from his own memoir. I particularly enjoyed the early chapters about his childhood in Delaware with the extended family that rallied together to support Joe Biden and his sons after the car accident that took Neila Biden and her infant daughter. Hunter poignantly described his close relationship with his brother Beau, and the painful circumstances of Beau's final illness and death, and the toll that took on him, on his father, and on the rest of the Biden family. I'll admit to finding the details of Hunter's struggles with addiction a bit tedious, but that too was an important part of his story. The accusations pushed by the Trump campaign and the right wing pundits leading up to the 2020 election seem thoroughly debunked by even a cursory overview of Biden's education and career. While Trump et. al. made him sound like a high school dropout who could only get a job because his father was famous, Hunter Biden is actually a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School, and worked with a number of respected companies and NGOs around the world (as well as his own consulting/lobbying firm) before being invited to join the board of Burisma in the Ukraine. He's had a difficult life in so many ways, and I can only wish him well in this next phase of his life with his new wife and young son Beau.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    This was a memorable memoir, a heartbreaking story of alcoholism and addiction and loss. I think Hunter wrote a beautiful love letter to his brother Beau, who was dear to everyone who knew him and must have been quite a remarkable man. I relate personally to a lot of what Hunter has been through and I fear for him as a result of reading this book but there is always hope. I hope Hunter is taking his life a day at a time and I hope he understands that his wife Melissa is also just a mortal person This was a memorable memoir, a heartbreaking story of alcoholism and addiction and loss. I think Hunter wrote a beautiful love letter to his brother Beau, who was dear to everyone who knew him and must have been quite a remarkable man. I relate personally to a lot of what Hunter has been through and I fear for him as a result of reading this book but there is always hope. I hope Hunter is taking his life a day at a time and I hope he understands that his wife Melissa is also just a mortal person and that he does not hold her responsible for his sobriety. The recovery since meeting Melissa a couple short years ago is quite remarkable and I worry for Hunter. Sorry I am getting so personal here but I adore Joe Biden. Joe Biden has always been a true public servant in my eyes, and I am thrilled that he is president and was heartbroken for him when Beau was lost in 2015. I wished Hunter could have gotten it together then, but the nature of addiction and alcoholism doesn't do what people hope for - the disease has a mind of its own. As far as the writing in this novel, this is as well written and compelling as any memoir I have read. I'm sure Hunter was as honest on the page as he is with himself (hmm.....) and hope that he has finally had enough of a bottom. I truly wish him the best.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    3.5 It would be simple enough to have zero sympathy for this guy. But the courage he exhibits in telling this story with all its gritty details is edifying. He bares his soul, and makes many rationalizations. Yet he convinced me that most were valid due to obdurate grief over the death of his Irish twin, Beau–his best friend, support system, and shoulder to cry on since their shared bereavement over the death of their mother when they were boys. I listened to the audiobook read by Hunter himself 3.5 It would be simple enough to have zero sympathy for this guy. But the courage he exhibits in telling this story with all its gritty details is edifying. He bares his soul, and makes many rationalizations. Yet he convinced me that most were valid due to obdurate grief over the death of his Irish twin, Beau–his best friend, support system, and shoulder to cry on since their shared bereavement over the death of their mother when they were boys. I listened to the audiobook read by Hunter himself (always a good idea,) and you can hear the resigned, wilting tone in his voice, his sighing over and again, as if he’s embarrassed at this recitation of his battle with addiction. I think that no matter what your politics, this memoir will break your heart, and make you root a bit for the dude and the entire Biden family who dealt with this carnage. I hope for them all that this was a therapeutic exercise for Hunter, and that he becomes better for it. If you’ve ever wondered how the offspring of the world’s elite can literally hit rock bottom when seemingly in possession of every privilege, this book will show you. As the song reminds us, we’re all only human, after all. Addiction is a skilled equalizer.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susan Moresi

    You know the story, so I'll say this: Hunter, after years of addiction, which among other things does not make things easy for his wife, his daughters, his parents, etc. is rescued by an angel who, within a very few minutes makes Hunter realize he never wants to do drugs again, and doesn't have to. Before you can even be happy for him, he ends up in a really idyllic living situation that very few people could afford. That is to say, he's much better off than we are. Much better. Should you be happ You know the story, so I'll say this: Hunter, after years of addiction, which among other things does not make things easy for his wife, his daughters, his parents, etc. is rescued by an angel who, within a very few minutes makes Hunter realize he never wants to do drugs again, and doesn't have to. Before you can even be happy for him, he ends up in a really idyllic living situation that very few people could afford. That is to say, he's much better off than we are. Much better. Should you be happy for him? Does he somehow deserve this? Did he earn this by being miserable for a while? Should you not be happy for him? Should he not have quite so perfect a life? Does he really deserve this? Does he not deserve this the way he didn't deserve the addiction? Can he possibly say something about someone else? Like, I'm going to try to help others? Or I'm so lucky, I'm not going to forget that most others are not? Or are we just going to forget everything and enjoy what we have until it ends? I don't know what he's doing with his life or what the future holds for either or us or anyone else. But it is (I'm not saying I didn't like the book) 200 pages of this happened and it's not really fair or right and this happened and that didn't happen to most people and then this happened and it's not really normal, and then in the end there's a veritable miracle and he greets it with basically a shrug, like, well why shouldn't I have this? And it's just, I guess, uncharacteristic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janet Fry

    I knew next to nothing about Hunter Biden other than Donald Trump tried to trod on his reputation in order to inflict damage on Joe Biden’s candidacy. But Hunter has defused the Trump bomb with this wrenching telling of his alcohol and cocaine addiction. It begins with the relationship Hunter had with his brother Beau, who died in 2015. It was brotherly love times infinity. “He never asked what most people ask: Why? I can’t overstate how helpful that was. It’s an impossible question for an addict I knew next to nothing about Hunter Biden other than Donald Trump tried to trod on his reputation in order to inflict damage on Joe Biden’s candidacy. But Hunter has defused the Trump bomb with this wrenching telling of his alcohol and cocaine addiction. It begins with the relationship Hunter had with his brother Beau, who died in 2015. It was brotherly love times infinity. “He never asked what most people ask: Why? I can’t overstate how helpful that was. It’s an impossible question for an addict to answer. I could point to traumas, family history, genetics, ... the wrong circumstances. But I don’t know the answer." That passage was helpful to me in understanding how good people can get so mixed up in bad things. And I’ll remember to focus not on “why” but in how I can be less judgmental and more loving. Love is what ultimately saved Hunter. I learned many things about the character of our 46th President, Joe Biden. “There’s a popular theory that an addict needs to hit bottom before he or she can be helped. The addicts I know who hit bottom are dead. So as busy as Dad always was, he never, ever gave up on me.” That’s gratifying.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cris Tortolano

    Tragic and inspiring I never knew all of the details of the many truly tragic events that happened to this remarkable family. I knew I liked and respected the man who would become our 46th President, but I wanted to know the truth about the target of so many baseless horrible accusations by the 45th and his cronies. I am sad to find out how that truth can be twisted and used to hurt good people when politics are involved, especially when one of those hurling the accusations is a reality TV star Tragic and inspiring I never knew all of the details of the many truly tragic events that happened to this remarkable family. I knew I liked and respected the man who would become our 46th President, but I wanted to know the truth about the target of so many baseless horrible accusations by the 45th and his cronies. I am sad to find out how that truth can be twisted and used to hurt good people when politics are involved, especially when one of those hurling the accusations is a reality TV star who only cares about gotcha moments and his ratings. This book is so brutally raw and tells everyone exactly who and where Hunter Biden has been. It isn’t pretty but it’s honest…another word that 45 or his children don’t know the meaning of. Listening to him read his story, you can feel all the emotions (love, anger, pain, disillusion, shame, joy and pride). The words on the page are powerful, but to hear those words in the voice of the person that lived them is even more impactful. On this, the 101st day of his father’s Presidency, I am so happy that Hunter Biden knows exactly who and where he is. He is with all the Beautiful Things.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Winders

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I thought Beautiful Things was beautifully written. There were parts that were simply heartbreaking and parts that were totally disgusting and annoying. But the book did show the ugliness and despair of alcohol/drug addiction. I found myself annoyed and aggravated with Hunter Biden more often than not. The torment he put his family through was awful. But that is the way with addiction. I found myself feeling sorry for and admiring his family at the same time. After everything he put them through I thought Beautiful Things was beautifully written. There were parts that were simply heartbreaking and parts that were totally disgusting and annoying. But the book did show the ugliness and despair of alcohol/drug addiction. I found myself annoyed and aggravated with Hunter Biden more often than not. The torment he put his family through was awful. But that is the way with addiction. I found myself feeling sorry for and admiring his family at the same time. After everything he put them through they were still always there with open arms to welcome him back. I hope he truly appreciates that and also the privilege he enjoyed by being a wealthy white man. I still can’t believe he didn’t end up in jail (even though I don’t believe addiction should be treated as a crime). I do recommend this book but it’s tough to read, especially if you have been or are currently dealing with alcoholism and/or addiction in your family. After reading this book, I do wish Hunter the best. Who knows? Maybe he can stay sober.

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