I only read 13 books (so far) in 2005, so I thought I would attempt to review them--and see if I can remember all the way back to January, when I read the first one ("The Magician's Assistant"). I'm going to start with the last one and work my way backwards.
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey is a book I probably would never have bought or even thought of reading if Oprah hadn't raved and raved and raved about it. How can you not be intrigued by a book that everyone in the audience agreed kept them awake all night reading until they finished.
It didn't do that for me, but it did hold my interest. If you want to get a hard-hitting, ugly, brutal feel for what it's like to be addicted and to recover from drugs and alcohol, this is the book for you.
If you love someone who is trying to recover from drugs and alcohol, this is the book for you, because it will give you a much greater appreciation for what the road back is like and why when you've made it through the first days of coming off the drugs, the work is just beginning.
The positive thing about this book is that James Frey wrote it, so we know that he was successful. If it were written as a biography instead of an autobiography, I think I would have been far more riveted to find out whether or not the man had achieved his objectives.
There are shocking revelations, amazing characters, triumphant and very sad stories in this book. All are made more compelling because they really existed. They really succeeded, or not, as Frey presents them (though all identities are hidden, of course).
I have long said that Alcoholics Anonymous is our family "club," rather than the Kiwanis or Elks club or anything else, since I come from a long line of alcoholics. Fortunately, I don't think there were any hard core drug users that I knew (or know) well, though undoubtedly there are some. So I could relate to the book on a familial level.
In this day when methamphetamine addicts are born every day and that drug is ruining families and lives, I think this is an important book for everyone to read.
1/6/06 post script: even if the book is a work of mostly fiction (as is now alleged), it's still a good book to read to get a sense of what drug addiction and recovery is like.