Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kelly's Review of "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey

Author: James Frey
Published: Nan A. Talese, 2003
Where I Got It: Goodwill
Why I Read It: I decided to branch out of HF for once!

Oh Oprah, you and your book club choices! I actually scraped the O sticker off my copy of the book before I read it in public...but that's a whole other rant.

Anyways, this was a pretty interesting story about James Frey's six week stay in rehab when he was 23 years old. We learned about his life before he was hospitalized, and then the people he meets along the way. I actually liked hearing about his new friend's lives and struggles more than James'. We are also graced with some really disgusting descriptions of vomit.

I was very disappointed in the way that James actually kicked his habit...he basically passed off his meetings and exercises and didn't do much of anything. I think this is misleading, leading other to think that just staying in a rehab center for six weeks, separated from your drug of choice, will instantly cure you. I don't know, maybe this is the point? In my opinion, it was rather weak.

However, the thing that bothered me most about A Million Little Pieces is rather ADD on my part: there are absolutely no quotation marks in the writing. None. It's a bit of a struggle to read and follow along with who is saying what and when. Also, commas are very sparse, rarely used when they are obviously needed.

Towards the end of the book, James is 'confessing' his sins (even though he doesn't believe in a god) and writes down all the sins he can remember committing, starting from when he was just a child. He truly did some horrible, horrible things in his pre-rehab days; this just reinforced the fact that I honestly never felt sorry for him once...until I go to the very last page. It absolutely broke my heart.

I also kept picturing the narrator as James Franco's character in Pineapple Express....the dirty pajama pants and messy hair.

I missed the whole controversial arguments involving the book, but I honestly don't care, it was still just a 'meh' for me. 3 stars.


  1. I have this one on my shelf but I haven't been able to pick it up. I got so put off by the whole controversy that I just didn't want to read it. Maybe I need to go into it thinking that it is just fiction? lol. I don't know. I've heard that his book My Friend Leonard is better!

  2. I bought this 2 weeks ago and I have heard of it since it appears at Oprah book club list.

    Sorry to hear that it is a meh read. I'll read this anyway and see what I'll make out of it.

    Nice review. :)

  3. To answer Jamie...My Friend Leonard is much better than this book. Frey has been doing a lot of horrible things to the book industry, like recently recruiting college students to write books under alias names for little money so he can profit. He's honest about the things he does, but that doesn't make me feel any better about him. The Leonard book is a good story, but I really have no respect for Frey. And with or without A Million Little Pieces being completely true, I agree that is still only a "3" in the ratings.

  4. I applaud you for making the effort. I don't think I could fairly review this book knowing about the controversy.

  5. James Frey is such gigantic tool - I'm glad you didn't like the book, even without delving into the controversy. If you're interested, here's a real good article about him:

  6. This was assigned reading in a course I took about Oprah (her book club, image, affect on business & culture, etc.--actually more academic than you may think) and I couldn't finish it. To me, it was bizarre and just not very well written or even a bit appealing. Oh well...

  7. I didn't know much about the controversy surrounding this book when I read it (other than there was some sort of controversy) and I rather sort of enjoyed it. Once I had finished and looked into everything I liked it a lot less, though. I like to keep my opinion of it as it was as I was reading-- I found it interesting, and while not the best book I've read it still drew me in.

    As for the quotations thing, that totally annoyed me (at least for a while) too. I think that can either really add to, or really take away from a book and in this case I'm not sure it worked all the time--sometimes, yes, but.. not all the time (but with a book like The Road I think the lack of quotation goes along with the story really well).

  8. I read this book a few years ago and loved it. I thought the lack of quotations was distracting at first, but then I just got used to it and it all flowed. Agree about the last page - I was such an emotional wreck at the end of it. My Friend Leonard was really good, but I actually liked A Million Little Pieces better. I think it was the messed up love story that sucked me into the first one.

  9. (cough, cough) I do that too - peel the Oprah stickers off of the few OBC books that I've read in public. I may rant about that on my blog too; thanks for the idea! :-)

  10. I haven't read this one yet, but I did read My Friend Leonard, and I actually really liked that one.

    And his writing style is really weird and confusing at times.

  11. I hate it when you can't get the Oprah sticker off the book!!!

  12. This is in my TBR pile. I actually held in my hand this morning, trying to decide between it and Yiddish Policeman's Union. YPU won, but I think I'll read Million Little Pieces shortly after and weigh my review with yours.


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