Friday, 17 August 2012

a million little pieces

A million little pieces is a hard hitting, semi fictional memoir by James Frey. Though I am an avid book reader, I hardly ever have the patience to do a book review. Also, I am usually not into memoirs or biographies,I prefer thrillers and crime fiction is my favourite genre. One day, as I was searching though the books at my library, I came across 'A million little pieces'. The title of the book intrigued me and I decided to pick it up.
image source: Wikipedia

This book is the journey of James Frey as an alcoholic, drug addict and criminal from total depravity to sobriety at one of the oldest treatment centre in the world. At the age of 23 James finds himself on a plane, his front four teeth are missing, his nose is broken, his cheek has a hole big enough to put two of his fingers and he does not remember what he has done in the past two weeks.

He has been an alcoholic for 10 years and a crack-cocaine and Meth addict for many years. James starts drinking at the age of 10 and quickly gets drawn to drugs. He does anything and everything to fuel his addiction and is also wanted for crimes in three states. He has abused everything right from  Cocaine, crack-Cocaine, PCP, Glue, crystal meth to alcohol and he has blacked out everyday for many years. At the treatment centre he is told that his body is so badly damaged that if he does not quit, he will soon be dead. His body is so destroyed, that doctors at the treatment facility wonder as to how he is still alive.

The book is graphic in many places and I visibly winced while reading it. The writing is stark and you can actually feel the emotions and pain. The book is a window into the mind of an addict and you get an actual glimpse of how the author had to struggle with his addiction. 

Everyday tasks like eating breakfast or even taking a shower are described through his eyes and how James learns to live like a normal human being. How he struggles at everyday tasks like eating food and even looking into his own eyes. His anger towards his parents and how he deals with it and starts having a normal realtionship with his parents is also described quite well. He learns to make lasting friendships and life long friends with fellow addicts that include a mobster and a judge.

Some incidents described in the book sound too over the top and unbelievable. There was a huge uproar and criticism from the journalists and James Frey even appeared on the Oprah show and was questioned for the authenticity of the details in his book after it was published. Since this book is a memoir and the author wrote it from his memory, I have ignored whether these incidents were real or not and have stuck to the crux of the book. At several places, the author does sound arrogant when he shuns the treatment plans and the 12 steps of recovery designed for addicts. At such times, it makes you wonder whether this attitude is what made him an addict in the first place.

A million little pieces is an honest account of the author's life. I admire the courage of the author to write about his life and talk about his mistakes with so much candour. James Frey does not blame anyone for his addictions and accepts responsibility for his actions. 

The book horrifies and fascinates you at the same time. There are times when you would want to shut the book and keep it aside but the book is powerful enough to draw you towards it. The writing jumps through the page with its rawness. 'A million little pieces' is about hope and strength, it is about a life that is destroyed to a life that is reborn, it is about the human spirit and what it can endure and conquer. A must read for the strong hearted.

18 comments:

Bikram said...

well I hope people read it and know the vices of alcohol and drug abuse ... and also those are in this get hope and strength to overcome it ..


Bikram's

sunil deepak said...

Reading the review evokes feeling of "
book horrifies and fascinates you at the same time "! I am not sure I would ever read it though in the end it is a story of hope and courage

Lazy Pineapple said...

I so agree with you. The book put everything in perspective...

Lazy Pineapple said...

Sunil I guess the book is definitely not for everybody. The thing is that once you start reading it, you automatically want to find out whether the author recovers. Try it, you never know you might end up liking it...

Karan Agrawal said...

Sounds interesting, bold... should be a fascinating read!

Zephyr said...

It sounds intriguing and I might just pick it up. Some books are really too stark for comfort. I remember one called, 'The boy called IT', which was about the worst form of abuse a boy undergoes at the hands of his biological mother.

Lazy Pineapple said...

It is a fascinating read...do pick it up...

Lazy Pineapple said...

It is quite interesting and quite in the face. You cannot forget it too easily. But it gives you a real glimpse into an addicts mind. I have heard about 'The boy called IT'. Will try reading it...

Rachna Srivastava Parmar said...

The review sounds interesting though very graphic or dark books normally deter me! Let me see if this one is there at my library.

Lazy Pineapple said...

It is a bit dark but also fascinating. Try it and see if you can go through the first few pages. If you can, then you can read the book.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

This is a book I would like to read - I stay away from dark fiction - but real-life stories are something I really like to read - it gives me a better insight into our complex human minds. Thanks for sharing, @februarygirl:disqus

Lazy Pineapple said...

I am glad you found my review helpful. All of us who read it take away something from the book.

Psych Babbler said...

I must admit I was put off from reading this book after the whole drama of him possibly fabricating a lot of it came up. Despite your interesting review, I'm not sure if I'll be reaching out to read it any time soon because of that history.

Lazy Pineapple said...

I think lot of people felt cheated when they found out that he fabricated some stuff. I can understand that. I came to know of the controversy much later when I Googled to find the picture of the book.

Deepak said...

Does seem interesting

Lazy Pineapple said...

It is quite interesting..do give it a read.

Leah said...

I remember when he was on Oprah after it was decided that his book wasn't factual. I'm with you though. It's his memory and he wrote it. I'm going to pick up a copy as I have been meaning to for years. You did a great job with this review! I believe we can all use a good human spirit story. Thanks!

Lazy Pineapple said...

Hey Leah..I believe that even if it is a fictional piece, the book is inspirational and gives you courage too. Do pick it up and give it a read, am sure you will like it.

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