... at once harrowing, relentless and a determined exercise in trying to seize his own narrative from the clutches of the Republicans and the press ... given the trajectory of alcoholism, crack addiction and relationship shredding contained in the next 250 pages, it’s impossible not to see the title burdened by the weight of unintended irony ... The addiction memoir is complicated to pull off. The narrative arc is grimly predictable...Clearly, this addiction memoir mattered a lot to Biden, to tell his story and to present himself to the world as the writer he always knew he was. And yet, to make these stories rise to a different level, they require not just the candid chronicling of how-bad-it-got, but also compelling writing that delivers a measure of insight and empathy for others — such as worried family members and hotel maids who are left to clean up his messes. Near the end of his memoir, Biden describes the moment of looking into the eyes of the woman who would become his new wife, and seeing a 'reflective gaze,' by which he means one that not only truly sees him, but in which he fills up the entire field of vision. From her deep blue eyes to what was contained in them, he was struck by the similarities to the brother he lost. And somehow that provided a reason to recover for good.
... a vague sense of magical destiny and a dose of inexplicable charm ... scenes of disintegration are what lift Beautiful Things from an even-toned press release line-edited by somebody from the Democratic Party into a pretty interesting minor thriller about homelessness and drug addiction ... the best of Beautiful Things lies in the pages Biden spends with Rhea (a pseudonym), an older woman from Washington, D.C. ... Hunter (or whatever combination of ghostwriters and editors composed this book) manages to establish himself as a real human being. The advantages of his background, education as a lawyer, and clear contempt for responsibility should count against him, but the thing about addiction is that it levels people with no regard to social status, and that makes a difference to his story. Unlike the celestial owl, Hunter’s crack years do have a moral to them: the innate equivalence of all people’s worth ... Beautiful Things reminds you how powerful a force tragedy is in American electoral politics, how difficult it is to analyze, and how successfully Joe Biden has wielded its invocation in his rhetoric.
It is at times a harrowing journey. Readers who make it all the way through may feel they have completed something of a 12-step rehab program themselves. The details at times make one feel exposed to something like degradation porn ... As for the drug use, there could scarcely be a more damning account than Hunter Biden's own in his memoir ... This memoir is surely a confession, but it seems to seek something other than conventional forgiveness – something other than sympathy ... In the end, if it is not about forgiveness or sympathy, this memoir may be about making a stand. Making it clear the younger son, the black sheep of the Biden clan, wants to take whatever place on that victory stage he can occupy, as a son and a brother and the father of Beau Biden II, the new generation of hope.