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A Million Little Pieces

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  234,990 ratings  ·  11,852 reviews
Intense, unpredictable, and instantly engaging, this is a story of drug and alcohol abuse and rehabilitation as it has never been told before. It is also the introduction of a bold and talented literary voice.
Before considering reading this book, please see the BookBrowse note on the book jacket/review page.

BookBrowse Note: January 9th 2006: An article in the Smoking Gun
Paperback, Oprah's Book Club, 515 pages
Published September 22nd 2005 by Anchor Books (first published 2003)
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Carol Waters The writer is an ass. He pontificated on the use of willpower as a means of attaining sobriety and put down some of the most reputable treatment progr…moreThe writer is an ass. He pontificated on the use of willpower as a means of attaining sobriety and put down some of the most reputable treatment programs in this country while he lied about having an addiction. My concern is that he encouraged people to avoid one of the few things that might give them a chance at life. Detoxing at home can be deadly, because it's a medical issue, not cheap entertainment. He romanticized addiction, overstated his role as a charmer who beat the odds, and did the one thing that one can't do if one hopes to have a decent chance at recovery: lived in the lie. Thinking this was a good plot is right up there with believing that Wizard of Oz was a travelogue. If he'd admitted it was fantasy he at least would have maintained his dignity. Jerk. (less)
Jeff Jones I read the book just after it was published and have to say I felt a little cheated when I read that it was fictional. However, that lasted very littl…moreI read the book just after it was published and have to say I felt a little cheated when I read that it was fictional. However, that lasted very little time before I realised I should just admire it as a novel that I found easy, compelling and an interesting take on a world I have a little knowledge of.
Read it, not personally struggling with addiction doesn't mean the world of addiction is something you should have no interest in or knowledge of.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  234,990 ratings  ·  11,852 reviews

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Aug 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody!
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 ...more
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
My Book Club chose to read this Book for the month of June.
I had owned it for years and never gotten around to reading it.
Then I read it.
The Book.
A Million Little Pieces.
It is the allegedly true but probably not story of a Man who smokes a lot of crack and huffs gas and drinks and drinks and drinks until he is so sick he blacks out and he worries his friends and his family until he is sent to a Clinic. He has no front teeth and his cheek has a gash. He is hurt from smoking crack and huffing gas
May 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read MLP in the spring of 2004 after it was recommended to me by an internship supervisor-turned-friend when I shared with her a story I wrote about a man addicted to cocaine, inspired by true life events. Her life had also been touched by addiction and when she learned that mine was, she lent me the book. I was pulled in by it, chewed up, and spit out with everything put back together differently. Together, we dissected it at length, comparing battle scars reopened by Frey's raw-edged prose. ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
addicts exaggerate the truth -- who knew???
first off, it's a great read with a unique style. frey makes a sort of rhythm with his sentence structure throughout the entire story, pulling and pushing the reader along at a pace that he (frey) determines, and that is an amazing accomplishment in itself. it is also a wonderful tool for bringing the reader into a world that he/she may have absolutely no idea about. i've been to rehab -- a few, actually, over the course of a year -- and it is very muc
Apr 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
So bad, it's eminently quotable. I fondly remember lines like, "I endured, I endured, I fucking endured" and "a bayonet, an eight-foot bayonet, a fucking eight-foot bayonet" both during his traumatic root canal (poor Jimmy), and "Like a child being burned alive, a child being burned alive, a child being fucking burned alive," Frey's way of describing a grown man's screaming at the top of his lungs. See the pattern here? Forgive me if I misquote him by leaving out ellipses. No, I didn't demand a ...more
Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really wish I'd gotten my shit together to review this before all of the news about how much of it might be fiction started swirling around. But since I didn't, I feel some responsibility to talk about that, as well as about the book itself. Oh well.

The drama, in case you live under a rock, is that the truth of a number of the claims Frey makes in this book, a memoir, is being contested. You can take a look at this article if you'd like more information. My thoughts are that Frey probably did
May 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody under any circumstances
Recommended to Dash by: A reviewer who's name I can't recall, but I still hold disdain f
Shelves: biography-memior
What a (million little) piece(s) of crap! By the time I finished this book I was craving a few stiff drinks, desperately tearing up the house looking for a syringe and spoon. If I had only thrown this one in the Goodwill bin sooner! I have no clue why anyone would think this was worthwhile reading material. I found it to be vapid, self-aggrandizing bullshit from start to finish.

I read this book before the whole Oprah controversy/confrontation, so that really had no impact upon my lowly opinion.
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
In his much-debated book, Frey offers the reader a significant glimpse into his life as an addict and the time he spent in a treatment centre addressing these demons. Opening in dramatic fashion, the reader is immediately treated to Frey circling the drain as he lands in Chicago and is shipped off to an unnamed facility in Minnesota. His arrival garners much confusion and pushback, as Frey expresses feeling that he did not belong or fit in amongst others who are at various stages of addiction. T ...more
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying that the primary reason I decided to read this book now was that I got it for free. Not that I wasn't curious; I've got a definite weakness for angst and drugs and devastation and redemption. I mean, shit like this is ludicrously popular because it like twangs something in us, right? It accesses some kind of emotional core or whatever, some place in us that has struggled too, that wants to see suffering end and the sun shimmer out from behind the clouds and a reward come t ...more
Mar 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Original Review - 2007 edited slightly (mostly for grammar) in 2011.

I got into a discussion about this book yesterday with some fellow goodreads friends and thought I should add my two cents here. I must start, as is customary with this one, by saying I read the book after it was picked to be in Oprah's book club, but before the scandal occurred.

I enjoyed the book. I attempted to rate it based on the way I felt upon completing it, and without the perspective I now have which is likely affected
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
The first part of this book is well done. Frey does describe what it is like to be an addict well. I'm one & I know. After that, it was pure fiction - very dangerous fiction for an addict.

From his description, I believe he went to the same treatment center as I did. They would never allow him to run his own program or pull half the crap he said he did. His best thinking & will power got him to treatment. It isn't logical nor part of any reputable treatment plan, to allow the addict to cure himse
Karen Rotwitt Perrin
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I was so captivated by this book. For the first 100 pages or so, the narrator has his front four teeth knocked out and I kept having the sensation of no front teeth either! I kept attempting to run my tounge along my barren gums and was "surprised" to find my teeth there instead. It was a completely strange experience, but I mention it just to illustrate how this book immediately transported me to another time and place. Although there were parts where I felt he was too repetitive (no more vomit ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aldean by: Amy Lynn
[This review is excerpted from a essay I wrote for my blog in 2005]

I started reading A Million Little Pieces in the spring of 2003, shortly before its April release. Our friendly neighborhood Random House rep knew I was a shameless trauma junkie, and when she slid the reviewer's copy across the breakroom table I snapped it up.

It was immediately clear to me that this was not a factual book. This is not to say that I thought it was untrue — far from it — but merely that it did not strike me from t
Ahmad Sharabiani
A Million Little Pieces, James Frey
A Million Little Pieces, tells the story of a 23-year-old alcoholic and abuser of other drugs and how he copes with rehabilitation in a twelve steps-oriented treatment center. While initially promoted as a memoir, it was later discovered that many of the events described in the book never happened. The book follows Frey through the painful experiences that lead up to his eventual release from the center, including his participation in the clinic's family progra
Mar 24, 2007 rated it did not like it
I read "A Million Little Pieces" before the entire scandal broke out surrounding the truthfulness of the "memoir". Even before obtaining the knowledge that the book was not 100% truthful, I found it to be an overdramatized and unrealistic account of what real life drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are like. In many scenes in the book I felt as though Frey was self aggrandizing and in some parts even glorifying the experience of being a drug addict. He portrayed drug addicts as rough and r ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Based on true life, this is a story about the author's experiences of addiction and then recovery in rehab.

First of all it was marketed as a memoir, secondly, following a debacle with Oprah Winfrey, the author confessed that it was largely altered and padded out to make him look more macho. The levels of machismo described were ridiculous and he talks about having root canal treatment at the dentist without any anaesthetic. Just powering on through it as only a real butch toughi
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey is that book you read tell friends about then debate if it's real or not and everyone of you are going to have a different opinion.
It starts with a man of 23 on a plane on his way to rehab to start the fight with his horrendous demons (drink and drug and LOTS of them) and his determination to fight them.
I'm along the lines of half and half,I found it to be a emotionally charged read with certain circumstances that were very very graphic also shocking ( oh th
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There is a reason that this novel is my favorite novel. I read this at such a young age, and I am quite sure that I can blame it for the fact that I've never done drugs or drank in my 21 years of being alive. This book is so real and so detailed and specific and James' life is so horrible that it's nothing I would ever want for myself. I know there's a lot of controversy about whether this is a fiction or a non fiction book and I say: who cares? Whether he really lived it or exaggerated most of ...more
Elijah Jones
Aug 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
Being a recovering drunk myself, I found Frey's book to be thoroughly annoying. People in addiction tend to be self-absorbed people and this is one of the things we're trying to learn not to be when we stop drinking/using. Frey portrays a character who stops using but doesn't really change. He becomes more annoying and self-absorbed with his cliched eastern religious study and trip to the dentist without pain med's which I found totally unbelievable and unhealthy.
The good thing about the book
Tracy Fenton
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
As usual I am a bit late to the party having never heard of this book until someone recommended it to me at a party in May 2017! When I mentioned it on my book group it appears the entire world had heard about it and read it, which obviously led me to download it immediately and read it.

I am not going to lie and say it’s a easy read or a brilliant book, it’s bloody harrowing and painful and raw. If you have any knowledge of addictions, the 12 step programme or rehab then this book doesn’t just s
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In 2003, James Frey released A Million Little Pieces, a memoir detailing his 10 year battle with drug and alcohol abuse. Praised by critics and championed by Oprah Winfrey, it seemed like Frey had achieved literary success. However, fast forward 2 years and website, "The Smoking Gun", investigated the legitimacy of some of the claims made in Frey's memoir. It turns out that Frey had embellished a few of the major events within his autobiography; mostly to do with jail time and his main love inte ...more
Nov 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
I recently finished the roller-coaster ride that is James Frey's (mostly) autobiographical novel A Million Little Pieces. Surely many of you have seen the controversy over this book which has left Oprah "very disappointed" in author James Frey. She feels taken advantage of by the fact that he seems to have fictionalized several incidents in the book. It is unfortunate that Frey lied (his book would have been just as good with strictly the truth), and I am not condoning lying (am I?), but let's h ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
It gets 4 stars because the farking font and free association paragraph style KILLED me (otherwise, it's probably 4.25). I never read this when Oprah told me to and I still didn't read it when she told me not to. I picked it up now because it popped up on about 10 different "Kelly, stop avoiding it and just read this YOU IDIOT" lists and I'm glad I did. It was graphic, dark and so absolutely grotesque that I had to put it down a couple of times, but man was it good. If asked my opinion, I believ ...more
Sep 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
I'm still not quite sure what to think of this book, even with the revelations that chunks of it were totally made up. To me, that's not its main problem. Frey's entire work is hamstrung by a half-baked stream of consciousness style that is more often annoying than compelling. Sure, I can appreciate the style when he's talking about how messed up in the head he is, but the inexplicable punctuation (he seems to capitalize words randomly) and the total avoidance of quotation marks doesn't make it ...more
Catherine Woodward
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars
3.5 ⭐, rounded up

I think I am proudest of making it through this entire book without vomiting once.

(ETA: I was in my first trimester of pregnancy at the time, so triggers were not exactly welcome!)
Jul 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Oprahbots
Shelves: fiction
You may be thinking you'd like to read this book to see what all the fuss is about. Don't. First of all, even putting the "scandal" aside (and I'm sorry, but if you read this book and didn't know that 90 percent of it or more was absolute bullshit, you really need to do some work on your critical thinking skills), the writing style is embarrassing -- an overwrought, pseudo-macho mess. Second, if you buy this book, you're just inflating Frey's bank account, which is tantamount to rewarding this a ...more
Bruce Campbell
Apr 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who are over-credulous
Recommended to Bruce by: Not Oprah
I got to read this book just a couple of months before the Oprah controversy broke. I remember speaking about it to the Social Work Practice class I taught at the time and noted that I wasn't at all convinced that it was "true." But I did think it had some interesting material in it if you could look past the quite serious horseshit*: the oral surgery, the romantic embraces, the endless vomiting, and ultimately, the heroic vindication.

I certainly enjoyed watching Frey squirm as he tried to parse
I deliberately read this memoir of non-fiction fiction to explore the relationship between truth, Truth, and story. But I didn't learn all that much about my relationship with those things as much as I did find out about other people's entaglements with those issues.

For example, I took this book with me to update my voter registration. Granted, it is a small city, so it was just me in the small office with the registrar, but I don't think being alone was the only reason she looked at what I wa
Nov 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
The only reason that I finished this book was that I brought it with me from London and I was going around small coastal towns in the Dominican Republic offering no alternative reading material. But what a waste of 500+ pages of reading time! I cannot think of anything that Frey wants to say in this book other than: Look at how fucked-up I am. I'm not asking for your sympathy or understanding - and fuck you if you even think of pitying me. Nor am I writing to help others with similar addiction p ...more
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100 Books Challenge: Current Group Read - March 2021 - A Million Little Pieces 19 5 Mar 30, 2021 10:36AM  
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A Worthy Read 32 224 Aug 25, 2019 04:51AM  
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James Christopher Frey is an American author and entrepreneur. After battling with alcohol addiction and spending time in rehab, he wrote A Million Little Pieces which was published in 2003 in America and the following year in the UK to critical acclaim. He wrote the sequel, My Friend Leonard about life after rehab, which was published in 2005 in the US and the year after in the UK.

James Frey now

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