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A Million Little Pieces – James Frey

A million little piecesEmma Gariety

The book A million Little Pieces by James Frey is a memoir of him going into a rehabilitation center.  It starts out with him waking up on an airplane, not knowing where he is going or how he got there.  Getting off the plane he finds his parents waiting for him to take him to their summer cabin.  Once there, James drinks until he eventually passes out.  James parents and brother decide to take him to a rehabilitation clinic, which James is not very happy about.  At the rehabilitation center it starts out rough, with another patient literally dragging him off his spot on a chair.  Things do start to get better, though.  While there he meets many other addicts, one of which is a girl named Lilly, and another is Leonard.  Slowly he becomes good friends with both of them, eating lunch with Leonard, and eventually having secret meetings with Lilly.  Soon, James feels that they are his truest friends that he has ever had.  A one point in time in the story, James’s parents visit for the family program, which he isn’t very happy about.  He learns about his childhood, like the fact that he had a severe tooth infection when he was younger that went unfixed until he was older, and the fact that his grandfather was also an alcoholic, which could be the reason for his addictions.  Shortly after his parents leave, Lilly runs away from the center, hearing the news that she wouldn’t be able to see James anymore.  He goes after her, eventually finding her, after she had been using crack.  He brings her back, and after that, things actually start going well for him, and he is finally on the road to recovery.

 The author’s style is very informal, but very descriptive.  You feel like you’re almost right there with him, or in his head.  Sometimes he’s humorous, but most of the time he is just very serious.  He describes things in ways that really give you a feel for what’s going on. He rarely uses quotation marks, which sometimes can get confusing because you don’t know what a thought is and what is actually being spoken.  Overall, his writing flows very well, and it is very easy to read.

 1. Addictions are very strong.  They can make you crazy and do things that you would normally not do.  It will end up being a struggle and it’s just not worth it.

 2. Going through a surgery on your teeth would be extremely unpleasant.  All he had was two tennis balls to squeeze.  He could not have any medications during his surgery, because he was a drug addict and they didn’t want to cause a relapse.

 3. This story turned out to be a hoax.  Some parts of it were real, but others, mainly the interesting parts, were fictitious.  This should actually be a fiction book, but it is still considered a memoir because it partially tells a particular time in his life.

 4. You can overcome an addiction.  It takes lots of work, but soon you will be able to fix it.  James is on the road to recovery, and so are some of the other patients in the book.

 5. Alcoholism is possibly genetic.  James’s grandfather was an alcoholic, and they believe that maybe because of his alcohol abuse, that’s the reason James is the way he is now.

 This book actually meant a lot to me.  It was very interesting to read, hearing about all the things he went through, and how he responded to them.  I read it very fast because it was easy to get sucked into it and not want to stop.  I recommend this book to people who find an interest in addictions, although it is very graphic at times.  Overall it was a very good book and I enjoyed reading it.

Excerpt:

I walk toward a door where a Nurse stands waiting for me. As I walk past her she is careful not to touch me and I am brought back from the happy afterglow of pachyderm memories and I am reminded of what I am. I am an Alcoholic and I am a drug Addict and I am a Criminal. I am missing my front four teeth. I have a hole in my cheek that has been closed with forty-one stitches. I have a broken nose and I have black swollen eyes. I have an Escort because I am a Patient at a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. I am wearing a borrowed jacket because I don’t have one of my own. I am carrying two old yellow tennis balls because I’m not allowed to have any painkillers or anesthesia. I am an Alcoholic. I am a drug Addict. I am a Criminal. That’s what I am and I don’t blame the Nurse for not wanting to touch me. If I weren’t me, I wouldn’t want to touch me.
She leads me into a small Room. The Room is like many other Rooms I have been in lately, except that it seems cleaner and whiter. There are stainless steel cabinets along the walls, trays of sharp sparkling instruments on top of the cabinets, a large halogen lamp hanging from the ceiling. There is a surgical chair sitting in the middle of the floor. It is metal and it has green cushions and long menacing arms and all sorts of straps and buttons and levers and gears. It looks like a medieval torture device. I know it is for me. I walk past the Nurse and I sit down in the chair and I try to make myself comfortable but it’s not possible. Torture devices are not made to be comfortable.

One Response to “A Million Little Pieces – James Frey”

  1. March 17th, 2011 at 2:38 pm   

    Ms. Funk says:

    Emma — Well-written summary and accurate description of the author’s style. I think the fact that it is so graphic and gritty is what made it such a famous book when it was first published. Of course, it became famous for a different reason when the world learned the author lied. You might be interested to watch a YouTube video or two of the author on Oprah right after she selected his book as one of her book club choices and then learned he lied. She was not happy and he looks extremely uncomfortable on TV. Entertaining. Anyway, great blog!

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