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Don't listen to the haters....
Million Little Pieces - James Frey
Member Name: oogieboogie
Million Little Pieces - James Frey
Advantages: A damn good read, fabrication or not.
Disadvantages: May induce a slight feeling of nausea with some graphic detail!
I can't say that I would have chosen this book myself. Sure the cover is attractive enough, but I usually like to steer clear of the trauma section at Waterstones, instead heading for works of complete fantasy, that I can read without being reminded that a less perfect world exists, and that I live in it. However this book, which does completely the opposite, was recommended to me by a friend so I decided to read it.
A million little pieces tells the story of James Frey, the books author, and his time spent in a rehabilitation facility. Here he was treated for a drug and alcohol addiction along with countless other men and women in the same predicament. But don't be fooled, this is not your typical addiction story. Instead it is a story of triumph, of love, of hope, of self-belief, and of realising that only you can change your life.
It was amazing how quickly this book sucked me in. From the very first pages I was glued, and for the next few days this book became part of my daily routine, fitting it in whenever I could. I can tell you that the TV suffered from severe lack of use those few days, something which is relatively unheard of for a 19 year old student during her summer holidays. If anything can drag your teenager away from a twelve hour marathon of Jeremy Kyle it's A million Little pieces.
For those few days James Frey became my new best friend. Someone who spilled his heart out to me on every page, who showed me his pain, his desperation, his complete lack of hope and his plethora of despair. I began to revel in his triumphs, no matter how small. The truly great thing about this book is it's ability to show you in the most subtle of ways how Frey travelled from a complete wreck of a man to someone who had at least a chance of becoming a functioning member of society. It is a very gradual process, one that you barely recognize is happening until that moment of realisation when you see that he no longer suffers by the hour but actually begins to enjoy himself. By the end, I felt real, genuine pride in his achievement, despite the fact that I had never met the man.
My favourite thing about this book is Frey's complete unwillingness to go along with the twelve step process taught by Alcoholic Anonymous. Told time and time again that this is the only way to overcome addiction that has ever worked, Frey steadfastly refuses to give in to this system that he doesn't believe. He refuses to accept the notion that addiction is an illness that you cannot be blamed for, and I was so glad that this didn't become another one of those stories where someone has to "find God" in order to succeed. Frey didn't believe in a God or a higher power, yet still he managed to free himself of addiction for good. To me, that's a real message of hope that shows help is in our own hands and that we just need to make the right choices.
There's been no end of controversy surrounding this book regarding what is in fact true and what is fiction, but my advice would simply be to ignore all the criticism, avoid any online articles name calling Frey as a fraud and take the book at face value. Who cares if some of the story was embellished, and some of it complete fabrication? I have no doubt that there are people who get themselves into so deep a mess as is presented here, and that some of those people are able to drag themselves out of it. What this book doesn't lie about is the extreme odds that those with a serious life threatening addiction face and just how difficult it is to shake off those addictions completely without relapsing. This book has helped people to overcome their vices and go back living normal, drug free lives, learning from this book simply that it is a choice. Frey never claims to be anything other than a drug addict, an alcoholic and a criminal, and above all a man who faced adversity but somehow managed fight that adversity and kick it out on it's ass.
I would recommend this book to almost anybody. So the ending isn't the happiest, and there are some truly gut wrenching moments of graphic detail that probably aren't for the squeamish. But I say read it anyway and find yourself immersed in something which can only be described as a damn good read.
Summary: James Frey recounts his time spent in rehab in this kick-ass addiction story.
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