“When one lives lives without fear, one cannot be broken. When one lives with fear one is broken before one begins to live.”
A Million Little Pieces made me ugly cry. Gulping gasps that made me reach out to my mother for comfort even though I was a big girl (19).
At that point I thought what I had just read was an autobiography. My mum then went on an hour-long mission to find out if it was true or not. She thought it sounded unlikely. She was right, thankfully. My tears eased.
This was the day she banned me from reading “heartbreaking memoirs” and I try to stick to that rule even now. I’m less sad that way.
I discovered the book in a £2 bin in a shop in Cambridge. At the time I had a boyfriend there whom I visited weekly. The train journeys were where I got most of my reading done. Three hours each way, with a coffee break in the middle while I made my connection.
It took me almost a year to realise he wasn’t right for me and I could probably just read at home like everybody else. I remember the reading fondly. Perhaps if I’d listened to music or something instead the relationship would have ended much sooner.
I don’t blame James Frey for pretending it was all true. A great marketing trick (although a lot of people were angry). I imagine the wasted tears to be the reason. He was quickly disgraced and I suspect that’s how such a good book found itself so quickly in the bargain bin.
Aside from it being fictional, it seems like it’s a realistic account of addiction. Frey had obviously done his homework.
The writing style is interesting, lots of speech within the text but no speech marks to mark it clearly. The prose is neat, no words are wasted. It had my attention from the first page and I think I’d finished it within 24 hours.
I didn’t need so much sleep back then.
The pull of addiction and love entwine and you feel what the narrator feels. You fall in love with Lilly. I’ve met Lilly before. Not necessarily with a drug problem, but beautiful little soul and a fragile, troubled existence. There are a few Lillys in this world, Frey writes his characters well.
We meet a colourful palette of people, most pretty likeable. I feel like there should have been a few more ‘good’ people. I feel like addiction was portrayed as the disease of the bad. I’d have preferred less violence in the backstory.
I still like the book, I still recommend it eleven years on from that first reading. Just remember it isn’t true. I don’t know if the un-ticking of the ‘autobiography’ box makes it less enjoyable for a first-time read. I think it certainly shields your heart from breaking.
I need to stop letting books break my heart.