This dark and honest account of a young man’s attempt to escape the clutches of drug and alcohol addiction is an unforgettable book.
James Frey is twenty-three, and has been addicted to most substances since the age of eight, with barely a few days of sobriety in fifteen years. Coming-to on a plane with no front teeth, a hole in his cheek and a staggering hangover, James’ long suffering parents check him into a famous rehabilitation centre for what is, to all intents and purposes, his last chance.
The breathless style conveys the sheer mind-boggling emergence through detoxification, with the dream-like hallucinating and internal subconscious priorities manifested. The lack of punctuation, far from making the prose a difficult read, actually gives the idea of a flurry of ideas, the repetitive, consistent desires.
‘A Million Little Pieces’ is no sob story. Frey’s genuine beliefs and initial lack of remorse keep the reader open-minded, and so the pages turn, James becomes an intriguing character that we find ourselves hoping will succeed. His rehabilitation is a rocky road, and the hierarchy within his unit is somewhat similar to a prison.
But James is an unconventional character who maintains his own beliefs, rejecting the conventional Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps. Despite the pessimism of the staff, James’ own way ultimately proves the right path for him – his philosophy is simply to decide to stop, not replace one addiction with another (meaning religion) – which brings up an interesting theological debate as well as a discussion on the notion of addiction as a disease.
This book examines interesting issues surrounding drug and alcohol addiction, including psychiatric aspects and multi-factorial risk factors for potential addiction.
This is one of the most powerful and compelling books I’ve ever read; the very fact it is a memoir makes it unbelievably astonishing.