Stephanie's Reviews > A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
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Aug 26, 07

Recommended for: nobody!
Read in August, 2007

I did go into this book after the whole scandel business went down, and I went in not caring if it wasn't quite as factual as some may thinkg. Going in knowing this, I had a fairly open mind thinking of it more as a "based on a true story" kind of memoir (hey if I was writing about rehab I would probably change a few things too). However, even going in with this mind set I was SO irritated that this piece of crap had ever been sold as non-fiction. And no, it wasn't the fact that most of the book was clearly made up, but a number of other things.
First off, there were far too many fancy "only in the fiction world" events. If a crack head runs away from rehab, the guy that doesn't like him isn't going to come and help him on his mission. If a crackhead breaks the number one rule of the rehab centre they aren't going to give him a second chance just because he is so incredible.
Now, that being said, the second thing that irked me was how Frey tried to make himself into a hero. At no point in this book do I congratulate Frey for overcoming his addictions. I just don't care because I don't know what's true and what isn't. Frey explains to us over and over and over again how he is apparently the only person who has ever walked on the planet that can overcome addiction without the twelve steps. All of his support says in this book, "It won't work James, no one has ever stopped being an addict without the twelve steps." Well, James the miracle can! He can stop this just with the power of his mind. He is also strong enough to go into a crackhouse while in rehab and not do any crack and as he's leaving rehab he can sit infront of a huge class of whiskey and not drink it. Well! Good job James! You are the most incredible person on earth (that's what he wants us to say isn't it?)
Third, I hate the bit at the end of the book that "explains" what happens to all of the other characters. You expect every single event. It's like the "You get what's coming" ending. It was lame.
Finally, I hate hate hate this Writing style. Little picky things, I know, but I found it made this book very hard to read. Repeats of everything. Random words capitalized in the middle of a sentence. It irritated me to no end, in fact I could barely finish this book.
I want to forget forget forget this book.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 60) (60 new)


Alexandra hilarious. I couldn't agree more.


message 2: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Yes, a lot of people have overcome addiction without the 12 steps - in real life.


Chris Stephanie, You hit on everything that I would have, had I written this review. However, I'm not going to write a review. I wasted enough time reading the book. I wasted enough time reading the book....Oh, did I reapeat that? Holy CROW, did that get on my nerves!


message 4: by Kari (new) - rated it 1 star

Kari such a spot-on and hilarious review. these are the same things that irritated me about the book.


message 5: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Agree.


Yousef totally agree..i was really surprised and mad when i knew that this story was fake! and CHRIS you're right, we really wasted lots of time reading the book, i just knew it was a fake 3 years after i read it! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh


message 7: by Alistair (new)

Alistair McHarg I wrote a memoir of Manic Depression called INVISIBLE DRIVING. Surviving the events described in the book nearly killed me; writing about them was even harder. Being brutally honest was no joyride, but essential. When the Frey thing happened I was apoplectic with rage. He hadn't just hurt me, he hurt everyone willing to tell the painful truth in order to break down the walls of ignorance and prejudice. Alistair McHarg


Jocelyn i couldn't agree more. the writing style irked me too. the repetition of sentences for (what i can only assume he thought would be) dramatic effect. the fantastical "love scenes" in the woods between two crack-heads who knew each other two weeks, befriending a mob boss. this guy is just plain delusional. clearly all the glue sniffing has left him with very little to work with in the ol' attic.

i also agree with chris. wasted enough time reading the book. i had to power through (i have a thing about finishing a book i start, no matter how bad)...this one took me 5 months! (and yes, i went in knowing it was fake).


Casey Hah! Loved this review! Frey totally tried to make himself out as a bad-ass hero. A incredible Hero. A Hero that really didn't need anyone's help - that he alone has overcome odds that were stacked against him - that he was such a Criminal. I don't know what Oprah's attraction to this book was. There are so many alcohol/heroin/crack/cocaine memoirs out there that deserve credit. How could anyone not see through this crap? The only reason I finished it in a night is because I just wanted it to be over with!!!


message 10: by Eva (new) - rated it 1 star

Eva Leger I've been saying what Alistair said since this came out. I knew it was a total fake the minute I skipped through it. (I read it all just for "fun" to see how far he'd go.) Then I wondered how so many people could believe him because it was all transparent. I think the majority of people who do think it was true are people with NO drug knowledge whatsoever. Not meaning that anyone who sees it for what it is was a drug user, but they probably have *some* knowledge about the subject. Or maybe just a normal amount of common sense.
The people who are "okay" with buying a book as non-fiction and then finding out it's a lie and are still okay with it are just..... what are they? Hell, I can't articulate it. Sad is one word I'd come up with.
Memoirs are a huge part of my reading material and he (and the ones who stand behind him) did a great disservice to all authors of memoirs - especially painful ones. He should be ashamed of himself and while I don't like Oprah I do applaud her for getting the word out because without her apparently the great majority was too stupid to see it for themselves.


message 11: by Kari (new) - added it

Kari Oh my gosh, I feel like I could have written this review myself! I didn't finish A Million Little Pieces and it was mainly because of his writing style. I couldn't STAND the random capitalization and repetition. Seriously drove me damn near over the edge. High five, Stephanie!!


message 12: by Ali (new) - rated it 1 star

Ali I read the book three or four years after the controversy, and thought that, though it can be universally agreed that lying about a painful process like recovery from drugs and alcohol is a giant dick move, and dishonourable to the people who actually go through the same things and want to tell their story, I was willing to ignore that for four or five hours and judge the book on its own merits as a literary creation, assuming in the process that everything written is fictional, and all the people are products of Frey's imagination. Though I thought the book was merely okay when I finished and certainly an interesting read for a Saturday afternoon, my respect has waned considerably now that almost a year has passed and I can look at the book with a more critical eye. Well, not eye (mine don't work), but you get the point, and came to about the same conclusions you did in this review. At first, I liked the stream of consciousness style of writing, but now realize that it is not much more than a failed attempt to imitate the writing style of Ernest Hemingway, and an annoying one at that. Also, I got a chance to look at some of the book in Braille, and found out just how many words are capitalised throughout sentences. I knew from the Wikipedia entry that Frey chose to capitalize various nouns for unclear reasons, but had never bothered to look for myself until now. The capitalisations make no sense, not just in the sense that the nouns he capitalises weren't intended to be capitalised in the first place, but that there is no pattern whatsoever of what he chooses to capitalize. At first, I thought capitals indicated words tied to people, events, or entities that are in some way special to him, like the Fury he is battling against. Then I began to see words like Door and Room capitalised, and knew that was not the case. I'm still not sure why he does it, and my current theory is that there is no real reason, other than his attempt to come off as being a deep and philosophical thinker, with the capitals representing abstract ideas that us "normal folk" will, like, never understand because it's, like, really deep and complicated, you guys!


message 13: by Eva (new) - rated it 1 star

Eva Leger I agree with your belief on the caps Ali. That was my thinking back when I read the book but I didn't find the proper way to explain that back then. (Or now apparently since I needed to see your comment! lol)
But I was horrified at his lies. I have friends and have seen others who were able to get past that but I can't. I like to know my non-fiction is just that. That's a big part of why I've never been able to get into historical fiction. I just want what I read to be either "fake" or "real". I can deal with paraphrasing of course, if I couldn't my read list would be a lot less, but when it's outright lies my head swims. And Frey's lies were so obvious to anyone with ANY knowledge of drugs.
In short, I think it's cool that you could get past that part and still get into the story. I wasn't able to do that and it colored my entire take on the book.
I know I wouldn't have liked it anyway which helps but still. I'd have liked to have had a different kind of critical eye going in. :)


message 14: by Gwen (new) - added it

Gwen Nguyen 100% agree with you


Moria I think you're full of sh*t and I 100% disagree. Thank you, goodbye.


message 16: by Ali (new) - rated it 1 star

Ali Hmmm. I think I've seen a few comments more pointless than that last one, but I can't think of them at the moment, so I'll just say that was the most pointless comment I've ever read.


message 17: by Moira (new) - rated it 1 star

Moira Russell Yeah, it's not even good as literature. As a piece of writing. Books like that stand or fall on whether or not They Really Happened, and once the fraud is revealed, it's hard to believe anyone took them seriously -- like those fake Vermeer paintings.

I'm a recovering addict (HI, MOI) and a memoir /junkie, no wait that's tasteless in this context/ reader, so, as you can guess, I have read a lot of Came To Believe-type books. And my bullshit detector was wildly pinging by page 10, or whenever the airplane ride to rehab is. Celebrity anecdotes aside it is really fucking hard to get on a plane if you're obviously intoxicated, much less if you were a piece of human hamburger the way Frey supposedly was. No airline in its right mind would let someone in that bad shape on an flight unconscious without a nurse or companion or someone. -- And then I checked on his age and realized that supposedly happened after 9/11, when airport security got super-tight, and knew he was completely full of it.

Shit like that all through the damn book. It read like, well, like a frat boy trying to impress a bunch of crocodiles. "And then they did a root canal on me WITHOUT ANAESTHESIA!" Uh hunh. "And then I walked into the crack house to find her and WALKED BACK OUT!" Mmmmmmmmhmm.

Heather King says it all better anyway and she wrote a better memoir, too http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by...


message 18: by peg (last edited Apr 03, 2012 04:28AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

peg I didn't care for this book from the getgo and I read it before Frey was fried on national TV by Oprah Winfrey. Not only is this memoir unbelievable,it's not even a good story.

However,with that said,I feel the need to defend this author. In Oprah's third interview with Frey (the one where she apologizes for treating him so badly on national tv), Frey explains that he intended to market "A Million Little Pieces" as fiction. It was the PUBLISHER,later admitting that she did not research the book's veracity prior to publication,who chose to place it in the non-fiction section of the bookstore because memoirs generally sell better than fiction. Since this was Frey's first attempt to publish anything,he took his publisher's advice and marketed his book as a memoir.

I am inclined to give Frey the benefit of the doubt at this stage in the game,bearing in mind that he was a vulnerable individual early in his recovery when he published this work...someone who was trying to rise above the wreckage of his personal hell that was created during his years of active addiction.He learned his lesson and moved on. Kudos to James Frey that he didn't relapse in the face of public ridicule and humiliation!! Since the publication of "A Million Little Pieces" Frey has moved on and published a novel.


Moria Well, you see, you people are all bashing this book because it was published as a memoir and it turned out that it's actually mostly fiction. And everyone is just concentrating on that while criticizing it. Can you just, for once, comment a book while thinking about it's story, not it's type or the section it was published in. So yes, he said it was a memoir, it wasn't. Get over it. If you felt hurt cause while you were reading it you kept thinking "Oh my god he is so brave" or "I can't believe someone can actually survive that" and then felt disappointed when you found out that those things didn't actually happen and you couldn't relate anymore, well then you're just simply an idiot. Guy wrote a good book, give him some credit. He didn't try to present himself as a hero, or fool the people, he just tried to find a way to get published. Cause he knew that book was worth reading. And in my opinion, he was completely right. I didn't knew it wasn't a real story when I started reading it, I found out that later. And I was "Oh well.. It's still amazing." It is, and will forever be, one of my favorite books. And if you're still planing to bitch about it not being true, well then go for it. Why? Because fuck you, that's why.


message 20: by Ali (new) - rated it 1 star

Ali You haven't read a single thing on this page, have you?
If you had taken two minutes to actually, you know, read the review, rather than looking at the star rating and posting a childish, ill-informed comment like that, you would see that the entire review is based around the fact that she already knew it wasn't real, and was basing her observations on the book as a work of fiction. If you read my comment from September, I did the same thing.
In related news:
I hate everyone. I need to go drink my weight in alcohol again. Maybe I'll check myself into rehab, and then write a misery porn book about my experiences. The mainstream public will eat that shit right up. Oh, my hurting soul...


message 21: by Mike (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike What I enjoyed about the ending, was the fact that anyone who could have backed up his story died. Except the judge. And no judge in his right mind would admit to going to rehab.


Casey Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Rachelle Eva and Ali I agree about the capitalization. I got the impression that he felt the rules of writing didn't apply to him either. Just like the rules in the rehab didn't apply to him, and he was so special that he didn't have to follow the twleve steps. Arrogant!


Lauren maybe the rules are different at different rehab clinics, but i've been to rehab twice and yes, they will let you stay if you break the number one rule. also - if someone tries to leave, it is up to EVERYONE there (staff and addicts both) to convince them to stay. i absolutely loved this book, probably because i read it right after i was released from Bradford Health.


message 25: by Cate (new)

Cate I feel the same way, but I think that if I hadn't gone into it knowing it wasn't true I would have liked/believed it more.


message 26: by Mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark Thanx for the heads up. I like reading these kinds of books but wont be supporting this one


Bittersweet Cupcake Wow! You have no idea about addiction and addicts in general, do you? And you actually read the book ONLY to see if the rumors are true or false? Wow! I'm sure your opinion meant a lot to Frey; he had you in mind when he wrote it. And you say you read this book "with an open mind"? Really? Honey, you obviously don't know SHIT about addiction. The 12 step program is not the ONLY program on the planet specialized for addicts. You realize that life exists outside the US, don't you? I am a recovering addict and I've spent 2 years and 4 months in rehab in Lebanon (Middle East). I was put into a situation where I was offered heroin a week after I was out of rehab and I DID NOT take anything. Addicts can do amazing things. You have no idea. The funniest part in your review is that you criticized the way he wrote and thought it is "hard to read". Seriously?! This book is known for Frey's narrative technique and how easy and realistic the way he writes is. But then again, that's my opinion. I'm sorry but I couldn't help but comment to that "review". Your illiteracy is devastating. So sad.


Bittersweet Cupcake Wow! You have no idea about addiction and addicts in general, do you? And you actually read the book ONLY to see if the rumors are true or false? Wow! I'm sure your opinion meant a lot to Frey; he had you in mind when he wrote it. And you say you read this book "with an open mind"? Really? Honey, you obviously don't know SHIT about addiction. The 12 step program is not the ONLY program on the planet specialized for addicts. You realize that life exists outside the US, don't you? I am a recovering addict and I've spent 2 years and 4 months in rehab in Lebanon (Middle East). I was put into a situation where I was offered heroin a week after I was out of rehab and I DID NOT take anything. Addicts can do amazing things. You have no idea. The funniest part in your review is that you criticized the way he wrote and thought it is "hard to read". Seriously?! This book is known for Frey's narrative technique and how easy and realistic the way he writes is. But then again, that's my opinion. I'm sorry but I couldn't help but comment to that "review". Your illiteracy is devastating. So sad.


Bittersweet Cupcake Wow! You have no idea about addiction and addicts in general, do you? And you actually read the book ONLY to see if the rumors are true or false? Wow! I'm sure your opinion meant a lot to Frey; he had you in mind when he wrote it. And you say you read this book "with an open mind"? Really? Honey, you obviously don't know SHIT about addiction. The 12 step program is not the ONLY program on the planet specialized for addicts. You realize that life exists outside the US, don't you? I am a recovering addict and I've spent 2 years and 4 months in rehab in Lebanon (Middle East). I was put into a situation where I was offered heroin a week after I was out of rehab and I DID NOT take anything. Addicts can do amazing things. You have no idea. The funniest part in your review is that you criticized the way he wrote and thought it is "hard to read". Seriously?! This book is known for Frey's narrative technique and how easy and realistic the way he writes is. But then again, that's my opinion. I'm sorry but I couldn't help but comment to that "review". Your illiteracy is devastating. So sad.


Bittersweet Cupcake Wow! You have no idea about addiction and addicts in general, do you? And you actually read the book ONLY to see if the rumors are true or false? Wow! I'm sure your opinion meant a lot to Frey; he had you in mind when he wrote it. And you say you read this book "with an open mind"? Really? Honey, you obviously don't know SHIT about addiction. The 12 step program is not the ONLY program on the planet specialized for addicts. You realize that life exists outside the US, don't you? I am a recovering addict and I've spent 2 years and 4 months in rehab in Lebanon (Middle East). I was put into a situation where I was offered heroin a week after I was out of rehab and I DID NOT take anything. Addicts can do amazing things. You have no idea. The funniest part in your review is that you criticized the way he wrote and thought it is "hard to read". Seriously?! This book is known for Frey's narrative technique and how easy and realistic the way he writes is. But then again, that's my opinion. I'm sorry but I couldn't help but comment to that "review". Your illiteracy is devastating. So sad.


Bittersweet Cupcake Wow! You have no idea about addiction and addicts in general, do you? And you actually read the book ONLY to see if the rumors are true or false? Wow! I'm sure your opinion meant a lot to Frey; he had you in mind when he wrote it. And you say you read this book "with an open mind"? Really? Honey, you obviously don't know SHIT about addiction. The 12 step program is not the ONLY program on the planet specialized for addicts. You realize that life exists outside the US, don't you? I am a recovering addict and I've spent 2 years and 4 months in rehab in Lebanon (Middle East). I was put into a situation where I was offered heroin a week after I was out of rehab and I DID NOT take anything. Addicts can do amazing things. You have no idea. The funniest part in your review is that you criticized the way he wrote and thought it is "hard to read". Seriously?! This book is known for Frey's narrative technique and how easy and realistic the way he writes is. But then again, that's my opinion. I'm sorry but I couldn't help but comment to that "review". Your illiteracy is devastating. So sad.


Bittersweet Cupcake Wow! You have no idea about addiction and addicts in general, do you? And you actually read the book ONLY to see if the rumors are true or false? Wow! I'm sure your opinion meant a lot to Frey; he had you in mind when he wrote it. And you say you read this book "with an open mind"? Really? Honey, you obviously don't know SHIT about addiction. The 12 step program is not the ONLY program on the planet specialized for addicts. You realize that life exists outside the US, don't you? I am a recovering addict and I've spent 2 years and 4 months in rehab in Lebanon (Middle East). I was put into a situation where I was offered heroin a week after I was out of rehab and I DID NOT take anything. Addicts can do amazing things. You have no idea. The funniest part in your review is that you criticized the way he wrote and thought it is "hard to read". Seriously?! This book is known for Frey's narrative technique and how easy and realistic the way he writes is. But then again, that's my opinion. I'm sorry but I couldn't help but comment to that "review". Your illiteracy is devastating. So sad.


Bittersweet Cupcake Wow! You have no idea about addiction and addicts in general, do you? And you actually read the book ONLY to see if the rumors are true or false? Wow! I'm sure your opinion meant a lot to Frey; he had you in mind when he wrote it. And you say you read this book "with an open mind"? Really? Honey, you obviously don't know SHIT about addiction. The 12 step program is not the ONLY program on the planet specialized for addicts. You realize that life exists outside the US, don't you? I am a recovering addict and I've spent 2 years and 4 months in rehab in Lebanon (Middle East). I was put into a situation where I was offered heroin a week after I was out of rehab and I DID NOT take anything. Addicts can do amazing things. You have no idea. The funniest part in your review is that you criticized the way he wrote and thought it is "hard to read". Seriously?! This book is known for Frey's narrative technique and how easy and realistic the way he writes is. But then again, that's my opinion. I'm sorry but I couldn't help but comment to that "review". Your illiteracy is devastating. So sad.


message 34: by Ali (last edited Oct 12, 2012 09:45AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Ali She doesn't like a thing you like, and doesn't find Frey's style convincing or his experiences inspiring, so she's illiterate? Sure. Makes perfect sense. I suppose if I had done as many drugs as Frey claims to and my mind was as muddled as his when he somehow went on that fabled plane trip without being consciously aware of doing so, I could get myself to accept that kind of logic. You remind me of all the people bashing negative reviewers of Pride and Prejudice, saying that because someone doesn't like Jane Austen and every word dribbled from her pen they must be idiots with the brains of small children who need to go back to Harry Potter and Twilight because they don't understand her writing.
On a related note, can people stop doing this "honey, you [statement]" shit? It's cringe-inducingly cliched, the condescention inherent in it is staggering, and it's often used by people who have nothing of real importance to say, so hide their non-statements with cliches that sound cool on paper. That I had to skip over it seven times makes it worse somehow. The "so sad" thing at the end of each of your seven messages needs to go too, I think. I seriously doubt you find her illiteracy as sad or devistating as you say, considering the seven angry screeds that came before it. That would be a little like punching a child in the face a few times and knocking out some teeth, and then claiming to love them, which no one ever does unless they're mentally unbalanced, horribly abusive, or just an asshole.
That said, I won't dismiss the fact that it is possible for a person to stop being addicted to something without the twelve steps, as the original reviewer did. There are obviously other methods, and people will gravitate to whatever works for them, which may not be the Twelve Steps. I just don't know that Frey did it, based on the book.


Bittersweet Cupcake And you are so provoked because??


message 36: by Ali (last edited Oct 12, 2012 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Ali Why would you think I was "provoked"? I felt nearly nothing while writing that other than slight annoyance at the overused cliches. You wrote a message filled with illogic and seemingly random guesses about the reviewer and her range of knowledge based on a single three hundred word review, and I responded as I saw fit. That's all there is to it. Are you trying to get me to admit something that you could use to prove that I'm just as dumb as you think the reviewer is and don't get Frey's genius? Or something. I'm not sure. I don't know how me supposedly being "provoked" has anything to do with Frey, the book, or the review.


Bittersweet Cupcake Neither do I :)


Davey Sapp With perception being reality..
Isn't it possible that Frey wrote himself as the hero because it's in the paranoid nature of addicts to deny and disassociate?
And from that isn't it possible that they highly unlikely events narrated were the reality, of a crackhead?
When an addict views the world isn't he/she the center? Codependency, god complexes, fear and control are very common themes in speaking of addiction. Isn't that the point of juvenile delinquency? To assert some control over their lives where they feel they have none? Isn't that the point of narcotics? To take one away from the world they need to but cant control? And Isn't that why rehabs exists? To break an addict from the microcosm they concocted in their heads where they are gods and in control... Through that loss of control they are forced to see the world and themselves for what it/they are.
It's no wonder the book is written the way it is.
It's no wonder the book is so highly fictional.
It's no wonder the very argument of being so far removed from that now, that Frey tries to convey, reads as juvenile.
Having not worked the steps and resisted treatment he proved his megalomania. He proved his inability to relinquish control.
Addiction stunts the brain where it starts. Frey was a young man when he gave himself over to it. Having not taken steps to grow from that point as an adult he filled himself with a false sense of accomplishment. Sure, he isn't still smoking crack. In that he obviously feels hugely heroic and accomplished and in control. The issues that brought him to that point to begin with are still in play.
The book reads juvenile, and that's no surprise. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy it for what it is. Always nice when someone inadvertently allows a peek inside while attempting to flex.


message 39: by peg (new) - rated it 2 stars

peg Well said ,Davey. I couldn't agree with you more!


Charmie Uh-huh! *nods*


Patrick Some people really should stick to Twilight.


Kasnani This review is just perfect. Absolutely hated the repetition - it was done with zero skill. And every time I saw a capitalized word I would cringe. This read like a brutal version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, with none of the symbolism or morals.


Mkalae Thank you so much.


message 44: by Dina (new) - rated it 1 star

Dina You read my mind. This book , fiction or non, is not worth the read . Its over the top fantasy navel gazing is mind bendingly sophomoric


Devon Totally agree. The dentist part...are you kidding me? Since when are you not allowed to have Novocaine because you're in rehab?? Every single thing was SO over the top that there was just no way in hell it was true.


Devon @Moria was that comment really necessary? Don't bash someone's review. People are allowed to not like a book and they are allowed to say they didn't like it. You don't have to be a asshole


Lauren Davey wrote: "With perception being reality..
Isn't it possible that Frey wrote himself as the hero because it's in the paranoid nature of addicts to deny and disassociate?
And from that isn't it possible that t..."


very insightful...i never even thought of it this way. thank you.


Sophia Thank you! You have said everything that I thought while reading. If I had a nickel for every time I rolled my eyes at this book...


message 49: by Josh (new) - rated it 1 star

Josh Galindo I'm not even finish with the book, I came on here to see if others agreed with how I am feeling about this book. You pretty much explained everything I've been thinking.


Melissa Martin Frey is pretentious as hell but you clearly have zero experience with addiction. You think all addicts instantly cave when offered their vice? I guess alcoholics never go out to eat, seeing as how they're offered drinks with their meals.


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