A Million Little Pieces

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Overview

At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey's acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.

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A Million Little Pieces

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Overview

At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey's acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
James Frey's memoir of drug addition and recovery was a bestseller even before Oprah Winfrey picked it for her book club in 2005, but the subsequent revelations about discrepancies between the story and the author’s real life touched off a national debate about the line between fact and fiction.

Filled with graphic scenes of epic substance abuse and the torments of withdrawal, A Million Little Pieces was widely heralded upon its publication as a harrowing, self-lacerating, and courageously confessional autobiography. It received many admiring critical reviews, carried cover endorsements from noted literati, and was selected by Barnes & Noble as a 2003 Discover pick. (Our reviewer called Frey “prodigiously talented,” “poetic,” and “unflinchingly honest”).

In January 2006, the author acknowledged the truth of charges that many details in the book were embellished or fabricated. In a note to readers that was prepared for subsequent printings, he apologized to those who felt they had been misled and explained why he wrote the book the way he did. Reactions to these revelations included soul-searching by publishers about their responsibilities for ensuring accuracy, ruminations by critics on the line between fact and fiction in modern culture, and spirited defenses of the author by readers who maintained that the book's inspirational message was of primary importance. One thing seems certain: A Million Little Pieces is a book that promises to have a long-lasting impact.
Entertainment Weekly
[A] thoroughly engrossing memoir...
The San Francisco Chronicle
[I]t gives away nothing to say that he finds himself whole at the end of A Million Little Pieces. How that came to be would be a first-rate tale of suspense, if it weren't drawn so hideously from an actual life.—James Sullivan
Publishers Weekly
For as long as he can remember, Frey has had within him something that he calls "the Fury," a bottomless source of anger and rage that he has kept at bay since he was 10 by obliterating his consciousness with alcohol and drugs. When this memoir begins, the author is 23 and is wanted in three states. He has a raw hole in his cheek big enough to stick a finger through, he's missing four teeth, he's covered with spit blood and vomit, and without ID or any idea where the airplane he finds himself on is heading. It turns out his parents have sent him to a drug rehab center in Minnesota. From the start, Frey refuses to surrender his problem to a 12-step program or to victimize himself by calling his addictions a disease. He demands to be held fully accountable for the person he is and the person he may become. If Frey is a victim, he comes to realize, it's due to nothing but his own bad decisions. Wyman's reading of Frey's terse, raw prose is ideal. His unforgettable performance of Frey's anesthesia-free dental visit will be recalled by listeners with every future dentist appointment. His lump-in-the-throat contained intensity, wherein he neither sobs nor howls with rage but appears a breath away from both, gives listeners a palpable glimpse of the power of addiction and the struggle for recovery. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (Forecasts, Mar. 10). (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Frey wakes up on an airplane with four broken teeth, a broken nose, a massive cut on his cheek, and unsure where he is or where he's going. Where he ends up is a residential treatment center based in Minnesota. This is the story of his experiences in that center as an addict and alcoholic. Listeners will meet the residents, including some who helped Frey continue his treatment and his work toward sobriety. The author's tale is brutal and honest, providing a realistic view of the life of an addict, something not for the faint of heart. It's full of profanity and graphic depictions of violence and drug use. In fact, Frey's description of the repair of his teeth without painkillers or anesthesia may keep people from ever going to the dentist again. That said, this presentation, read by Oliver Wyman, is an important addition for all library collections. Organizations that provide support for substance abusers, counseling centers, and prison libraries also should consider purchase.-Danna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Frey's high school and college years are a blur of alcohol and drugs, culminating in a full-fledged crack addiction at age 23. As the book begins, his fed-up friends have convinced an airline to let him on the plane and shipped him off to his parents, who promptly put him in Hazelden, the rehabilitation clinic with the greatest success rate, 20 percent. Frey doesn't shy away from the gory details of addiction and recovery; all of the bodily fluids make major appearances here. What really separates this title from other rehab memoirs, apart from the author's young age, is his literary prowess. He doesn't rely on traditional indentation, punctuation, or capitalization, which adds to the nearly poetic, impressionistic detail of parts of the story. Readers cannot help but feel his sickness, pain, and anger, which is evident through his language. Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Viking, 1962) seems an apt comparison for this work-Frey maintains his principles and does not respect authority at all if it doesn't follow his beliefs. And fellow addicts are as much, if not more, help to him than the clinicians who are trying to preach the 12 steps, which he does not intend to follow in his path to sobriety. This book is highly recommended for teens interested in the darker side of human existence.-Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Frey’s lacerating, intimate debut chronicles his recovery from multiple addictions with adrenal rage and sprawling prose. After ten years of alcoholism and three years of crack addiction, the 23-year-old author awakens from a blackout aboard a Chicago-bound airplane, "covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood." While intoxicated, he learns, he had fallen from a fire escape and damaged his teeth and face. His family persuades him to enter a Minnesota clinic, described as "the oldest Residential Drug and Alcohol Facility in the World." Frey’s enormous alcohol habit, combined with his use of "Cocaine . . . Pills, acid, mushrooms, meth, PCP and glue," make this a very rough ride, with the DTs quickly setting in: "The bugs crawl onto my skin and they start biting me and I try to kill them." Frey captures with often discomforting acuity the daily grind and painful reacquaintance with human sensation that occur in long-term detox; for example, he must undergo reconstructive dental surgery without anesthetic, an ordeal rendered in excruciating detail. Very gradually, he confronts the "demons" that compelled him towards epic chemical abuse, although it takes him longer to recognize his own culpability in self-destructive acts. He effectively portrays the volatile yet loyal relationships of people in recovery as he forms bonds with a damaged young woman, an addicted mobster, and an alcoholic judge. Although he rejects the familiar 12-step program of AA, he finds strength in the principles of Taoism and (somewhat to his surprise) in the unflinching support of family, friends, and therapists, who help him avoid a relapse. Our acerbic narrator conveys urgency and youthfulspirit with an angry, clinical tone and some initially off-putting prose tics--irregular paragraph breaks, unpunctuated dialogue, scattered capitalization, few commas--that ultimately create striking accruals of verisimilitude and plausible human portraits. Startling, at times pretentious in its self-regard, but ultimately breathtaking: 'The Lost Weekend' for the under-25 set.
From the Publisher
A shatteringly good listen, A Million Little Pieces is brought to life by Oliver Wyman's searing performance. . . . Raw, graphic, intelligent, visceral, this work should be . . . nominated for something! A sobering piece, not to be missed."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307276902
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/22/2005
  • Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,496
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland. He is also the author of My Friend Leonard. He is married and lives in New York.

Biography

James Frey in his own words:

"I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. I spent most of my childhood in Ohio and Michigan, and I have also lived in Boston, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, Sao Paulo Brazil, London, Paris, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I graduated from high school in 1988 and received further education at Denison University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1993, I was sent to the Hazelden Foundation for the treatment of cocaine addiction and alcoholism. I moved to Chicago in 1994, where I worked variety of jobs, including doorman, stockboy, and member of a janitorial crew. In 1996, I moved to Los Angeles where I worked as a screenwriter, director and producer. In 2000, I took second mortgage on my house, and spent a year writing A Million Little Pieces. It was published by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in May of 2003 and became a New York Times bestseller, a #1 national bestseller, and an international bestseller. In 2004, I wrote My Friend Leonard, which is a sequel to A Million Little Pieces. In June of 2005, Riverhead Books published My Friend Leonard, which also became a New York Times and international bestseller. I live in New York with my wife, daughter, and two dogs."

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

Good To Know

A few fun and fascinating facts from our interview with Frey:

"I've cut my own hair since I was 18, which is probably a bad thing."

"I once worked as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny at a department store."

"I have about 15 tattoos."

"I love baseball, boxing, football, and playing with my daughter."

"I read for a couple hours a day. I surf. I love looking at art, spend tons of time in galleries."

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Read an Excerpt

I wake to the drone of an airplane engine and the feeling of something warm dripping down my chin. I lift my hand to feel my face. My front four teeth are gone, I have a hole in my cheek, my nose is broken and my eyes are swollen nearly shut. I open them and I look around and I'm in the back of a plane and there's no one near me. I look at my clothes and my clothes are covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood. I reach for the call button and I find it and I push it and I wait and thirty seconds later an Attendant arrives. How can I help you? Where am I going? You don't know? No. You're going to Chicago, Sir. How did I get here? A Doctor and two men brought you on. They say anything? They talked to the Captain, Sir. We were told to let you sleep. How long till we land? About twenty minutes. Thank you. Although I never look up, I know she smiles and feels sorry for me. She shouldn't. A short while later we touch down. I look around for anything I might have with me, but there's nothing. No ticket, no bags, no clothes, no wallet. I sit and I wait and I try to figure out what happened. Nothing comes. Once the rest of the Passengers are gone I stand and start to make my way to the door. After about five steps I sit back down. Walking is out of the question. I see my Attendant friend and I raise a hand. Are you okay? No. What's wrong? I can't really walk. If you make it to the door I can get you a chair. How far is the door? Not far. I stand. I wobble. I sit back down. I stare at the floor and take a deep breath. You'll be all right. I look up and she's smiling. Here. She holds out her hand and I take it. I stand and I lean against her and she helps me down the Aisle. We get to the door. I'll be right back. I let go of her hand and I sit down on the steel bridge of the Jetway that connects the Plane to the Gate. I'm not going anywhere. She laughs and I watch her walk away and I close my eyes. My head hurts, my mouth hurts, my eyes hurt, my hands hurt. Things without names hurt. I rub my stomach. I can feel it coming. Fast and strong and burning. No way to stop it, just close your eyes and let it ride. It comes and I recoil from the stench and the pain. There's nothing I can do. Oh my God. I open my eyes. I'm all right. Let me find a Doctor. I'll be fine. Just get me out of here. Can you stand? Yeah, I can stand. I stand and I brush myself off and I wipe my hands on the floor and I sit down in the wheelchair she has brought me. She goes around to the back of the chair and she starts pushing. Is someone here for you? I hope so. You don't know. No. What if no one's there? It's happened before, I'll find my way. We come off the Jetway and into the Gate. Before I have a chance to look around, my Mother and Father are standing in front of me. Oh Jesus. Please, Mom. Oh my God, what happened? I don't want to talk about it, Mom. Jesus Christ, Jimmy. What in Hell happened? She leans over and she tries to hug me. I push her away. Let's just get out of here, Mom. My Dad goes around to the back of the chair. I look for the Attendant but she has disappeared. Bless her. You okay, James? I stare straight ahead. No, Dad, I'm not okay. He starts pushing the chair. Do you have any bags? My Mother continues crying. No. People are staring. Do you need anything? I need to get out of here, Dad. Just get me the fuck out of here. They wheel me to their car. I climb in the backseat and I take off my shirt and I lie down. My Dad starts driving, my Mom keeps crying, I fall asleep. About four hours later I wake up. My head is clear but everything throbs. I sit forward and I look out the window. We've pulled into a Filling Station somewhere in Wisconsin. There is no snow on the ground, but I can feel the cold. My Dad opens the Driver's door and he sits down and he closes the door. I shiver. You're awake. Yeah. How are you feeling? Shitty. Your Mom's inside cleaning up and getting supplies. You need anything? A bottle of water and a couple bottles of wine and a pack of cigarettes. Seriously? Yeah. This is bad, James. I need it. You can't wait. No. This will upset your Mother. I don't care. I need it. He opens the door and he goes into the Filling Station. I lie back down and I stare at the ceiling. I can feel my heart quickening and I hold out my hand and I try to keep it straight. I hope they hurry. Twenty minutes later the bottles are gone. I sit up and I light a smoke and I take a slug of water. Mom turns around. Better? If you want to put it that way. We're going up to the Cabin. I figured. We're going to decide what to do when we get there. All right. What do you think? I don't want to think right now. You're gonna have to soon. Then I'll wait till soon comes. We head north to the Cabin. Along the way I learn that my Parents, who live in Tokyo, have been in the States for the last two weeks on business. At four a.m. they received a call from a friend of mine who was with me at a Hospital and had tracked them down in a hotel in Michigan. He told them that I had fallen face first down a Fire Escape and that he thought they should find me some help. He didn't know what I was on, but he knew there was a lot of it and he knew it was bad. They had driven to Chicago during the night. So what was it? What was what? What were you taking? I'm not sure. How can you not be sure? I don't remember. What do you remember? Bits and pieces. Like what. I don't remember. We drive on and after a few hard silent minutes, we arrive. We get out of the car and we go into the House and I take a shower because I need it. When I get out there are some fresh clothes sitting on my bed. I put them on and I go to my Parents' room. They are up drinking coffee and talking but when I come in they stop. Hi. Mom starts crying again and she looks away. Dad looks at me. Feeling better? No. You should get some sleep. I'm gonna. Good. I look at my Mom. She can't look back. I breathe. I just. I look away. I just, you know. I look away. I can't look at them. I just wanted to say thanks. For picking me up. Dad smiles. He takes my Mother by the hand and they stand and they come over to me and they give me a hug. I don't like it when they touch me so I pull away. Good night. Good night, James. We love you. I turn and I leave their Room and I close their door and I go to the Kitchen. I look through the cabinets and I find an unopened gallon bottle of whiskey. The first sip brings my stomach back up, but after that it's all right. I go to my Room and I drink and I smoke some cigarettes and I think about her. I drink and I smoke and I think about her and at a certain point blackness comes and my memory fails me. Back in the car with a headache and bad breath. We're heading north and west to Minnesota. My Father made some calls and got me into a Clinic and I don't have any other options, so I agree to spend some time there and for now I'm fine with it. It's getting colder. My face has gotten worse and it is hideously swollen. I have trouble speaking, eating, drinking, smoking. I have yet to look in a mirror. We stop in Minneapolis to see my older Brother. He moved there after getting divorced and he knows how to get to the Clinic. He sits with me in the backseat and he holds my hand and it helps because I'm scared. We pull into the Parking Lot and park the car and I finish a bottle and we get out and we start walking toward the Entrance of the Clinic. Me and my Brother and my Mother and my Father. My entire Family. Going to the Clinic. I stop and they stop with me. I stare at the Buildings. Low and long and connected. Functional. Simple. Menacing. I want to run or die or get fucked up. I want to be blind and dumb and have no heart. I want to crawl in a hole and never come out. I want to wipe my existence straight off the map. Straight off the fucking map. I take a deep breath. Let's go. We enter a small Waiting Room. A woman sits behind a desk reading a fashion magazine. She looks up. May I help you? My Father steps forward and speaks with her as my Mother and Brother and I find chairs and sit in them. I'm shaking. My hands and my feet and my lips and my chest. Shaking. For any number of reasons. Mother and Brother move next to me and they take my hands and they hold them and they can feel what is happening to me. We look at the floor and we don't speak. We wait and we hold hands and we breathe and we think. My Father finishes with the woman and he turns around and he stands in front of us. He looks happy and the woman is on the phone. He kneels down. They're gonna check you in now. All right. You're gonna be fine. This is a good place. The best place. That's what I hear. You ready? I guess so. We stand and we move toward a small Room where a man sits behind a desk with a computer. He meets us at the door.I'm sorry, but you have to leave him here. My Father nods. We'll check him in and you can call later to make sure he's all right. My Mother breaks down. He's in the right place. Don't worry. My Brother looks away. He's in the right place. I turn and they hug me. One at a time and hold tight. Squeezing and holding, I show them what I can. I turn and without a word I walk into the Room and the man shuts the door and they're gone. The man shows me a chair and returns to his desk. He smiles. Hi. Hello. How are you? How do I look? Not good. I feel worse. Your name is James. You're twenty-three. You live in North Carolina. Yeah. You're going to stay with us for a while. You okay with that? For now. Do you know anything about this Facility? No. Do you want to know anything? I don't care. He smiles, stares at me for a moment. He speaks. We are the oldest Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facility in the World. We were founded in 1949 in an old house that sat on the land where these Buildings, and there are thirty-two interconnected Buildings here, sit now. We have treated over twenty thousand Patients. We have the highest success rate of any Facility in the World. At any given time, there are between two hundred and two hundred and fifty Patients spread through six Units, three of which house men and three of which house women. We believe that Patients should stay here for as long a term as they need, not something as specific as a twenty-eight day Program. Although it is expensive to come here, many of our Patients are here on scholarships that we fund and through subsidies that we support. We have an endowment of several hundred million dollars. We not only treat Patients, we are also one the leading Research and Educational Institutions in the field of Addiction Studies. You should consider yourself fortunate to be here and you should be excited to start a new chapter in your life. I stare at the man. I don't speak. He stares back at me, waiting for me to say something. There is an awkward moment. He smiles. You ready to get started? I don't smile. Sure. He gets up and I get up and we walk down a hall. He talks and I don't. The doors are always open here, so if you want to leave, you can. Substance use is not allowed and if you're caught using or possessing, you will be sent Home. You are not allowed to say anything more than hello to any women aside from Doctors, Nurses or Staff Members. If you violate this rule, you will be sent Home. There are other rules, but those are the only ones you need to know right now. We walk through a door into the Medical Wing. There are small Rooms and Doctors and Nurses and a Pharmacy. The cabinets have large steel locks. He shows me to a Room. It has a bed and a desk and a chair and a closet and a window. Everything is white. He stands at the door and I sit on the bed. A Nurse will be here in a few minutes to talk with you. Fine. You feel okay? No, I feel like shit. It'll get better. Yeah. Trust me. Yeah. The man leaves and he shuts the door and I'm alone. My feet bounce, I touch my face, I run my tongue along my gums. I'm cold and getting colder. I hear someone scream. The door opens and a Nurse walks into the Room. She wears white, all white, and she is carrying a clipboard. She sits in the chair by the desk. Hi, James. Hi. I need to ask you some questions. All right. I also need to check your blood pressure and your pulse. All right. What type of substances do you normally use? Alcohol. Every day? Yes. What time do you start drinking?

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Interviews & Essays

A Note to the ReaderA Million Little Pieces is about my memories of my time in a drug and alcohol treatment center. As has been accurately revealed by two journalists at an Internet Web site, and subsequently acknowledged by me, during the process of writing the book, I embellished many details about my past experiences, and altered others in order to serve what I felt was the greater purpose of the book. I sincerely apologize to those readers who have been disappointed by my actions.I first sat down to write the book in the spring of 1997. I wrote what is now the first forty pages of it. I stopped because I didn't feel ready to continue to do it, didn't think I was ready to express some of the trauma I had experienced. I started again in the fall of 2000. I had been working in the film industry and was deeply unsatisfied with what I was doing. I had wanted to write books and was writing films. I saved enough money to give myself eighteen months to write the book.I didn't initially think of what I was writing as nonfiction or fiction, memoir or autobiography. I wanted to use my experiences to tell my story about addiction and alcoholism, about recovery, about family and friends and faith and love, about redemption and hope. I wanted to write, in the best-case scenario, a book that would change lives, would help people who were struggling, would inspire them in some way. I wanted to write a book that would detail the fight addicts and alcoholics experience in their minds and in their bodies, and detail why that fight is difficult to win. I wanted to write a book that would help the friends and family members of addicts and alcoholics understand that fight.As I wrote, I worked primarily from memory. I also used supporting documents, such as medical records, therapists' notes, and personal journals, when I had them, and when they were relevant. I wanted the stories in the book to ebb and flow, to have dramatic arcs, to have the tension that all great stories require. I altered events and details all the way through the book. Some of those include my role in a train accident that killed a girl from my school. While I was not, in real-life, directly involved in the accident, I was profoundly affected by it. Others involved jail time I served, which in the book is three months, but which in reality was only several hours, and certain criminal events, including an arrest in Ohio, which was embellished. There has been much discussion, and dispute, about a scene in the book involving a root-canal procedure that takes place without anesthesia. I wrote that passage from memory, and have medical records that seem to support it. My account has been questioned by the treatment facility, and they believe my memory may be flawed. In addition, names and identifying characteristics of all the treatment patients in the book and all of the facility's employees, characteristics including occupations, ages, places of residence, and places and means of death, were changed to protect the anonymity of those involved in this period in my life. This was done in the spirit of respecting every individual's anonymity, which is something we were urged to do while in treatment, and to continue to do after we left.I made other alterations in my portrayal of myself, most of which portrayed me in ways that made me tougher and more daring and more aggressive than in reality I was, or I am. People cope with adversity in many different ways, ways that are deeply personal. I think one way people cope is by developing a skewed perception of themselves that allows them to overcome and do things they thought they couldn't do before. My mistake, and it is one I deeply regret, is writing about the person I created in my mind to help me cope, and not the person who went through the experience.There is much debate now about the respective natures of works of memoir, Nonfiction, and fiction. That debate will likely continue for some time. I believe, and I understand others strongly disagree, that memoir allows the writer to work from memory instead of from a strict journalistic or historical standard. It is about impression and feeling, about individual recollection. This memoir is a combination of facts about my life and certain embellishments. It is a subjective truth, altered by the mind of a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. Ultimately, it's a story, and one that I could not have written without having lived the life I've lived.I never expected the book to become as successful as it has, to sell anywhere close to the number of copies it has sold. The experience has been shocking for me, incredibly humbling, and at times terrifying. Throughout this process, I have met thousands of readers, and heard from many thousands more, who were deeply affected by the book, and whose lives were changed by it. I am deeply sorry to any readers who I have disappointed and I hope these revelations will not alter their faith in the book's central message -- that drug addiction and alcoholism can be overcome, and there is always a path to redemption if you fight to find one. Thirteen years after I left treatment, I'm still on the path, and I hope, ultimately, I'll get there.James Frey
New York
January 2006
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Reading Group Guide

1. A Million Little Pieces presents some unusual formal innovations: Instead of using quotation marks, each piece of dialogue is set off on its own line with only occasional authorial indications of who is speaking; paragraphs are not indented; sentences sometimes run together without punctuation; and many passages read more like poetry than prose. How do these innovations affect the pace of the writing? How do they contribute to the book's rawness and immediacy? How is James Frey's unconventional style appropriate for this story?

2. A Million Little Pieces is a nonfiction memoir, but does it also read like a novel? How does Frey create suspense and sustain narrative tension throughout? What major questions are raised and left unresolved until the end of the book? Is this way of writing about addiction more powerful than an objective study might be?

3. Why does the Tao Te Ching speak to James so powerfully? Why does he connect with it whereas the Bible and Twelve Steps literature leave him cold? How is this little book of ancient Chinese wisdom relevant to the issues an addict must face?

4. James is frequently torn between wanting to look into his own eyes to see himself completely and being afraid of what he might find: "I want to look beneath the surface of the pale green and see what's inside of me, what's within me, what I'm hiding. I start to look up but I turn away. I try to force myself but I can't" [p. 32]. Why can't James look himself in the eye? Why is it important that he do so? What finally enables him to see himself?

5. When his brother Bob tells James he has to get better, James replies, "I don't know what happened or how I ever ended up like this, but I did, and I've got some huge fucking problems and I don't know if they're fixable. I don't know if I'm fixable" [p. 131]. Does the book ever fully reveal the causes of James's addictions? How and why do you think he ended up "like this"?

6. Why are James and Lilly so drawn to each other? In what way is their openness with each other significant for their recovery?

7. Joanne calls James the most stubborn person she has ever met. At what moments in the book does that stubbornness reveal itself most strongly? How does being stubborn help James? How does it hurt or hinder him?

8. The counselors at the clinic insist that the Twelve Steps program is the only way addicts can stay sober. What are James's reasons for rejecting it? Are they reasons that might be applicable to others or are they only relevant to James's own personality and circumstances? Is he right in thinking that a lifetime of "sitting in Church basements listening to People whine and bitch and complain" is nothing more than "the replacement of one addiction with another" [p. 223]?

9. What are the sources of James's rage and self-hatred? How do these feelings affect his addictions? How does James use physical pain as an outlet for his fury?

10. How is Frey able to make the life of an addict so viscerally and vividly real? Which passages in the book most powerfully evoke what it's like to be an addict? Why is it important, for the overall impact of the book, that Frey accurately convey these feelings?

11. When Miles asks James for something that might help him, James thinks it's funny that a Federal Judge is asking him for advice, to which Miles replies: "We are all the same in here. Judge or Criminal, Bourbon Drinker or Crackhead" [p. 271]. How does being a recovering addict in the clinic negate social and moral differences? In what emotional and practical ways are the friendships James develops, especially with Miles and Leonard, crucial to his recovery?

12. James refuses to see himself as a victim; or to blame his parents, his genes, his environment, or even the severe physical and emotional pain he suffered as a child from untreated ear infections for his addictions and destructive behavior. He blames only himself for what has happened in his life. What cultural currents does this position swim against? How does taking full responsibility for his actions help James? How might finding someone else to blame have held him back?

13. Bret Easton Ellis, in describing A Million Little Pieces, commented, "Beneath the brutality of James Frey's painful process, there are simple gestures of kindness that will reduce even the most jaded to tears." What are some of those moments of kindness and compassion and genuine human connection that make the book so moving? Why do these moments have such emotional power?

14. In what ways does A Million Little Pieces illuminate the problem of alcohol and drug addiction in the United States today? What does Frey's intensely personal voice add to the national debate about this issue?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1021 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2009

    A Million Little Pieces

    A Million Little Pieces by James Frey is an inspiring book about one man's journey through a rehab clinic for addiction to alcohol since he was 10, cocaine since he was 12, and many other substances since, such as PCP, glue, acid, mushrooms, meth, and pills. A Million Little Pieces is the story of James' journey to get, and stay, sober.
    When 23-year-old James Frey first arrives at the treatment facility he has a hole through his cheek, his four front teeth knocked out, his nose broken and his eyes almost completely swollen shut. He woke up this way on a plane with no idea where he was going or how he had gotten there. He is covered in spit, snot, vomit, sweat, urine and blood and can barely remember anything about the past few weeks. When his parents pick him up at the Chicago airport he finally allows them to take him to Hazelden treatment center in Minnesota.
    As you get through the book you learn that this is not the typical bad life, bad parents situation; Frey was raised in warm, loving home by an affluent family. His family had no idea of his actions, and he did a good job hiding it from them. During the book he sometimes seems normal and sometimes the farthest thing from it. The story is captivating and gripping, the kind you can't put down.
    I would recommend this book to anyone in high school and above. There is language and violence, so if you have a hard time with gory or curel situations and dialogue this probably isn't the book for you. It is an honest and straightforward memoir, one of the best I've read in a long time. If you were looking for a meaningful book you'll want to read more than once, I would say check out A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

    A Great Read

    I first read this book before the truth about his exagerations came out. I loved it. I read it after the truth came out and still loved it.

    Yes, he writes with a sense of urgency. Which I thought was brillant. He is going through rehab...of course a sense of urgency is their. And you feel that.

    I think any one with an open mind and interested in a original read will enjoy this book.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2012

    I read this book and was suspicious of it authenticity immediate

    I read this book and was suspicious of it authenticity immediately. It was well written, but seemed exaggerated and as we now know, the author lied about much of the details in the book. I would not recommend this book to anyone with common sense.

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2009

    True Love for a Novel

    Once you're hooked up in a book, you can't stop reading. This is how I felt when reading the book "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey. I am a very distracted person. It is very difficult for me to engage in a book, but this time it was different. The novel "A Million Little Pieces" is on of the most memorable pieces of writing I've read. When a book stays on your mind, it means that it was great.

    What made me love this book so much? Different aspects such as the perspective, tone, atmosphere and environment that makes such a wonderful piece. Reading and getting into James, the main character's head helps us comprehend what he is going through. The fact that this novel is based on a true story makes it more appealing. His serious tone, shows the reader how serious his story is. He deeply expresses his regrets, tragedies, feelings..etc. Without showing any shame. If I were in his shoes, I couldn't dare tell that story nor publish it. He probably had the courage to do this since he is content with the result, he is alive. Every drug and alcohol addict wants to get out of the road of incorrect choices.

    The novel "A Million Little Pieces" is basically about James Frey's life. He talks about his days in rehab and all those cravings for drugs and alcohol he had during his path to the total withdrawal form those addictions.

    One who is interested in reading about someone's path to success should read it. Seriously, this novel can show you that even if your life is going the wrong way, you can make everything go right if you try.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Quick and wonderful Read

    James Frey writes so well that you feel like you are watching his story! I have been stopped numerous times on the subway by people telling me how much they loved his book as well. I would suggest it to anyone!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2012

    This is the worst book I ever suffered thru... I kept hoping it

    This is the worst book I ever suffered thru... I kept hoping it would be better, but it did not. Save your money. Don't waste your time.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    Raw and real

    Very compelling

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

    Good read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    Amazing attention to detail

    Although it seems the author embellished and fabricated the story, it is still worth reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I don't care what Oprah says...

    This book is perfectly categorized as a memoir. While I understand the negative hype that came along with the classification of this book as a memoir (as some of the incidents, as I understand, were not entirely factual), I really think that memoir is a genre that is apart from the basic fiction/non-fiction classifications. No one person ever sees things or experiences things the exact same way another person does, so it's never entirely factual for two people that were in the same situation. It's like your childhood and what you remember, versus what your parent's remember.

    Overall, the story moved along a quite a quick pace. I loved the unique style and the choppiness of the formatting added to the general feel that the book was trying to give you. I enjoyed the perspective and the author's ability to take you into the action of the story. His characters are really fleshed out, as well, which makes you feel a part of the story, although, as someone who has never really done things like those in the book, it was liek I was a spectator inside the story instead of an active participant in the re-hab.

    I did lend it to my Dad, though, and he could only get about half way through it. I don't think he liked the raw reality and honesty that came along with the story. He was a little taken aback, although he did enjoy it. It might be a little too much for some with weaker stomachs, but I highly recommend this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    Not true

    This writer has admitted that a lot og things that happened in the book, didn't. The entire dental scene is fiction

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2013

    ¿A million Little Pieces ¿by James Frey was an all out heart pum

    “A million Little Pieces “by James Frey was an all out heart pumping, and thrilling book.
     Even though this book is fabricated in some areas it does share an inspirational story about a man
     struggling with drugs, while going in and out of rehab.
    Being involved with drugs since the age of 10 this is James’ long and hard struggle to stay clean.
     At the beginning of the book James finds himself on a plane.
     Not completely sure where he’s going, but there’s a whole in his cheek, his nose broken,
    and his eyes where completely swollen shut.
    At the age 23 James finds himself in the Hazelden treatment center in Minnesota
    . As you find out that James life story isn't the typical story of a drug addict.
    He actually had a nice family and childhood, and an overall good upbringing.
    A major message that I feel this story tried to display is that he gave an honest and true perspective
     on the whole situation. He gave true stories and perspective on things that happen every day.
     I do enjoy how in detail the book goes; it seems as if he left nothing out.
     As I was about half way through the book, doing some research I found that some
    of the story was fabricated and if anything that would be the one reason to not read the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012

    :)

    I find the unconventional writing style nearly as inspiring as the story. I have personally read this book three times and i recomend it to all of my friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2011

    Great and Strongly Recommended Read

    A Million Little Pieces interested me in many ways and kept me hooked in. It was a fantastic story about the drug addicted life of James Frey, a 23 year old that woke up one day aboard a plane. Frey had been through something serious as he has his four front teeth knocked out, a broken nose, and a hole through his cheek. Without any memory of what had happened the past two weeks and clueless to the location the plane will be arriving. Upon his arrival he checks into a rehabilitation center and learns if he does not recover he will soon be dead. As you get through the book you learn that this is not the typical bad boy life growing up with bad parents situation; Frey was raised in a warm, loving home with a heartfelt family. His family had no idea of his actions. This was one of the most interesting books I have ever read, the life of James Frey is a never ending roller coaster. You learn about all of his addictions and what he has had to live with and how he has grown up over the years. Then there is his stories and a painful six weeks spent in there. The story is captivating and gripping, the kind you can't put down. I would recommend this book to anyone in the age group of high school and older. There is strong language and some violence, so if you are not a big fan with gory and cruel situations this probably isn't the book for you. It is an honest and straightforward memoir, one of the best I've read in a long time. If you were looking for a meaningful book you'll want to read more than once.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    An excellent memoir of addiction and recovery

    For anyone interested in life changing stories or autobiographies of people struggling to get their lives back on track, "A Million Little Pieces" is a must read. James Frey, the author and the main character of the book really personifies the life of a drug addict and takes the reader through horrific accounts that he once experienced before becoming sober. The suspenseful writing that James Frey portrays in this book makes the reader want to know more about what is next for him. Drug addicts have a high tendency to relapse and knowing that this book is about the steps towards sobriety, putting this book down will just prolong the question that remains in reader's heads while reading which is, "will James Frey relapse?" Like many books, they all have a fairytale ending but this book does not. It's a must read because of this sole reason. Had James Frey ended this book as if he got out of rehab and lived happily ever after, no one would think it's a credible source. Those that choose to read this book may be reading it for inspiration in their lives to get better and live a healthier lifestyle. James Frey leaves out no information and as you read, it is as if you feel the pain he went through in yourself. If I were in his position, there is no way I would be able to be as strong or have as much courage as he did. After finishing the book, it makes you consider what you have done in your life and it makes you look at other people and think that they might be going through the same thing. If you don't believe that you are strong enough for recovery then you will never get better. Many addicts who try to become sober know that if you are not willing to get the help you need, then rehab will not work out. James Frey was the complete opposite. His parents enrolled him into a rehab facility as soon as they realized that he was about to hit rock bottom. Throughout the book it is evident that he may leave the facility but with a good heart and his emotions towards his family and to get better, he stays through it and overcomes many things. It is important for a reader to enjoy the book that their reading and although "A Million Little Pieces" is gruesome and at times hard to read, you will never want to put it down. James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" is not only an inspirational book to readers who appreciate reading about hard times, or addicts who are trying to recover but also to Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey, a prestigious talk show host made a list of her favorite books and in 2005 "A Million Little Pieces" was featured in her book club. For anyone looking for a good read, I highly recommend this book whether you're an addict looking for inspiration or not it will keep you on your toes and you will surely be entertained from beginning to end.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2014

    I think this book was a detailed picture of one person's life st

    I think this book was a detailed picture of one person's life struggling with addiction. I was able to keep reading and felt like I never wanted the book to end. I would recommend this book to anyone. 

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  • Posted May 22, 2014

    A Million Little Pieces is a very riveting and graphic memoir.  

    A Million Little Pieces is a very riveting and graphic memoir.  James Frey's story is a little disturbing but it's worth the read.  I was inable to put it down. Watching him work through his struggles of his past while also trying to start fresh is intriguing. If you are into the type of book that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end then don't read this book.  But otherwise I encourage you to read A Million Little Pieces.  

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  • Posted May 19, 2014

    Good book

    Good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Reassembling the puzzle This book, A Million Little Pieces is on

    Reassembling the puzzle
    This book, A Million Little Pieces is one of those books where it’s hard to put down because it is so interesting and fascinating. The author James Frey wrote about his roller coaster life as it started with him as a young adult. James was a drug addict, and alcoholic, and substance abuser and this novel tells his story about what all he had to go through in order to sober up and actually begin taking good steps into his life. 
    When reading this book I thought to myself “wow this is what some people have to go through every day and some are less fortunate with others when receiving help.” It is crazy to think what some people are willing to put themselves through as an “easy way out” of situations. This book was very well written and eye opening as it went into major detail about his life, painted a picture in your mind and was able to pin point specific topics and then come back to them later. The tone James uses is wonderful to me as he isn't trying to make anyone feel bad for him but rather he is trying to help others see what pain he put himself through and that it isn't worth it. Books always become a lot more interesting when they are a true story and one that is set very seriously and really is able to grab your attention. 
    James has a way about his writing that is very appealing to anyone who is a teenager or above. It is difficult to understand how he writes in the first few pages but it all runs more smoothly and it is easier not to lose focus when reading this form of wiring. As I read this book I didn't just read it to read it and get it over with, it kept me hooked and didn't jump around. It followed a nice pattern and told a story the whole time which is usually difficult to do without jumping around to different topics here and there. 
    Overall, I think that James Frey wrote a very astonishing story that is very appealing and keeps one very interested the whole time. It was different to see his style of writing but it also was a writing that was easy to pick up on and made you follow along closer and closer with every sentence. He is a spectacular author and I recommend this book to anyone, as it is very mind opening and a great read.

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  • Posted February 28, 2014

    A Million Little Pieces by James Frey is a true story of himself

    A Million Little Pieces by James Frey is a true story of himself at the age of 23 trying to overcome his addiction. His has been an alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three. When the story starts off his is on an airplane with four front teeth knocked out, a broken nose, a hole through his cheek and zero idea how he got on the plane or where he is going. This memoir goes on and explains the struggles he had to go through during these six weeks in rehab to be able to overcome his unsurvivable addiction. The biggest question of all, does he overcome his addiction or never relapse? A huge theme throughout the story has to do with food and that becomes very apparent at the end. Whenever James starts feeling himself get angry he shoves food down his throat, almost like feeding the addiction but in a sense to get rid of it. At the end, he realizes it’s not only him who does this but the other patients when they start shoving a steak and lobster feast down their throat in a sense of relief. I thought this memoir did an awesome job of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to see what overcoming in addiction is like. The way James Frey goes into such detail about his experiences almost makes you feel like you are experiencing it with him. At some parts it is very hard to follow because there are no quotations which can make it harder to read and know who is talking. There are also a lot of run of sentences a grammar mistakes, but this shows how throughout the book he fails to follow any sort of rules given to him. If someone was an addict, looking for how absolutely horrible it can be to overcome and addiction but how absolutely possible it is, this book could give them hope. If he stuck through all of it, then anybody can. This book gives anybody in general hope to overcome a challenge. If you really set your mind to it, you can make it happen. 

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