a_million_little_pieces1Although it’s status as a memoir has been highly debated over the last few years, there is no denying that James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces is a gripping read from start to finish. The tale of one man’s (Frey’s, presumably) journey from hopeless substance abuse to trying to stay clean at all possible costs is filled with extreme amounts of emotion, despite being written so plainly.

James wakes up after overdosing on drugs to find that he is in a rehabilitation center. He had had a near death experience that had forced his parents to put him there. From then on, the story delves into James’ struggles with the program, the overwhelming urge to return to his old ways, and of the many different people that he encounters. Many of these men are hardened users, but he slowly develops a circle of friends, and in the process finds love in the form of a girl named Lilly. It is the search for Lilly after she leaves the program that provides the book with one of the intense chapters in a book in recent memory. Although James’ character is rebellious and stubborn, it is hard not to have a soft spot for him.

The book’s greatest strength lies in it’s ability to utilize simple sentences and phrases to evoke such powerful emotions, from James’ aggressiveness to the pain felt by his parents. The reader will be hard pressed to not develop a lump in their throat at some point during the novel. When all is said and done, A Million Little Pieces is still an excellent work no matter how you look at it.