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A Million Little Pieces

James Frey

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full title ·  A Million Little Pieces

author · James Frey

type of work · Memoir

genre · A matter of controversy. While the book was originally classified as a work of solid nonfiction, it was subsequently revealed that James Frey fictionalized many elements of the story. This revelation triggered a public outcry and ignited a rather unexpected debate on the exact nature of nonfiction writing. There is no general consensus on how to label the book.

language · English

time and place written · Late 1990s, early 2000s, Los Angeles

date of first publication ·  2003

publisher · Random House

narrator · James Frey

point of view · The entire story is told from James’s point of view and follows his thoughts. All other characters are presented through James’s recollections.

tone · Terse, highly emotional, direct

tense · Present

setting (time) · Six weeks in the early 1990s

setting (place) · A rehabilitation clinic in Minnesota

protagonist · James Frey

major conflict · James struggles to overcome drug and alcohol addiction.

rising action · James’s many addictions and the way that he’s been raised all contribute to the way that he deals with the possibility of his rehabilitation. His forbidden relationship with an addict at the clinic is both a symptom and a cause of much of the strife in his life at the clinic.

climax · When Lilly runs away from the facility, James follows her and risks never being allowed to return. He puts his life on the line by entering the crackhouse. In the process of saving Lilly, he feels the pressure of a crack pipe against his body, and he ignores it. He chooses Lilly, and therefore life, over drugs.

falling action · James faces his demons and overcomes his drug addiction. He spends the day of his release from the clinic with his brother Bob at a bar, without having a drink.

themes · Self-reliance as a means of salvation, Addiction as hunger

motifs · Beauty as inspiration, the Fury

symbols · Eyes, home and homelessness

foreshadowing · Early on, James reveals that he may have wronged a girl. That story unfolds over the course of the book. He also reveals that he did something so horrible that he cannot write it down. That deed is revealed in one of the last chapters.

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