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Review of "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey

Updated on July 1, 2015

When James Frey went to rehab at the age of 23, he never thought he would survive. His body was beaten, his mind was closing down and he had no will to continue on.

But luckily, and against all odds, he lived to tell the tale and in 2003 the acclaimed memoir: "A Million Little Pieces" was published.


Unfortunately, the book never got the positive fame that James Frey may have wished for.

Because, while the book started out with great reviews on his hard struggle to get sober on "his own" (he refused to follow the treatment center's 12 step program), it was suddenly disclosed that the book was not the book that it was sold as. Not even close.

James Frey and his publishers had made a deal, and published his book as a memoir. A non-fiction story from his own life. But suddenly a lot of information and rumors emerged, making people realize that a lot of things in the book, could not possible be true. In the end, Frey admitted that he had made up parts of the memoir.

One of the things he made up was his stint in jail, which was, according to the book, 3 months. But in real life, it was actually no more than 1 or 2 days.


Despite all this controversy, I must admit I loved this book.

I can understand if people are not fans of this book. It is very special and rough, and if you are normally into fantasy and YA, this may not be very interesting. James Frey's language is raw and down to earth. His language is foul in a lot of ways, but it fits the theme of the book - fairies, positive thoughts, rainbows and unicorns would never have fit.

I liked that he didn't use a lot of punctation, I liked that a lot of the sentences seemed to be "fast". I felt dragged down with the book. Not in a triggering i-want-to-use-drugs-like-james-frey way, but in a I-want-to-read-more-about-this-because-this-is-interesting way.

A few things that was annoying about this book, was mostly the character of James Frey. He was negative and annoying and totally rude to his parents, which definitely did not sit well with me. Also, I found the book somewhat unconvincing. He claims to have been addicted for 10 years, but throughout the book there is multiple times where he can just pass by drugs, as if it has no effect on him at all.


In the end, does it matter that he lied? I don't know. I am not an expert in literature, and I don't read enough memoirs and biographies to form a larger opinion.

I read somewhere, that people felt like James Freys opinion on the 12 steps program caused "false hope", for people who wanted to get sober and recover. That his 'not-that-true memoir' about beating addiction without the steps, could ruin people who tried to do the same.

Is that the problem? That is causes fake hope? Or is it that we feel sidetracked and lied to? Does it not accurately show addiction as it really is, when it is not non-fiction? Is it mocking people who are actually suffering, when a guy like James Frey goes out there, and writes a hardcore book about addiction, somewhat lying about what really happened?

It is not my job to judge. but I don't think it is right to publish something as non-fiction when a lot of it stems from your mind and not your life. But I don't wish to judge the book by that. Had this been fiction, I would still have given the book a good rating.

In the end, James Frey may have grossly overexagurated, but I still 'enjoyed' his book.
And if you like books with this topic, I would recommend you this one.

I could tell you to "take it with a grain of salt" but I don't want to, because parts may be fictional, but this book should still be read and understood as a piece of non-fiction and as a lesson to what you do not want to be, and where you do not want to go.

Because that is what we need to learn from stories like this, made up or not.

4 stars for A Million Little Pieces


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