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A Million Little Pieces

James Frey

From the introduction of Matty to the first secret meeting with Lilly

From James’s encounter with Leonard to the Bald Man’s story

From the introduction of Matty to the first secret meeting with Lilly, page 2

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There is a new man at breakfast, and James recognizes him. He is Matty Jackson, former Featherweight Champion of the World, and he is at the clinic because he is a crack addict. James, Leonard, Matty, Ed, and Ted sit together during breakfast and at a clinic lecture. After the lecture James goes to see Joanne and tells her he’s decided to try to get sober. He says that seeing the Bald Man cry made him realize what true bravery is.

Ken calls James into his office to ask if he’s given any more thought to doing whatever it takes to get sober. Despite what he just said to Joanne, James doesn’t have an answer to this question. He is still uncertain that he will be successful. Ken gives James an AA workbook (which looks like a coloring book) and instructs him to write down a goal on the “goal board” in the unit. He also tells James that Warren and John are leaving and that he will be moving into a two-person room. James says his good-byes to Warren and John. John asks James to look up his estranged daughter and tell her that he really tried this time. James walks outside, trying to fight the Fury. When it hits him he attacks a small tree and rips it to shreds. Lilly comes, stops him, and holds him while he cries. James’s new roommate is Miles Davis, an older black man, a clarinet player, and a judge in New Orleans. Miles, James, Matty, Ed, Ted, and Leonard have lunch together. At lecture James looks for Lilly and is struck by how he feels when he sees her.

Back in their room, Miles plays the clarinet while James reads the Tao Te Ching, and James eventually falls asleep. James wakes up to screaming. It’s Roy, who’s back, claiming his name is Jack, beating the couch in the lounge with a stick and threatening to kill anyone who comes near him. After he’s sedated, James can’t go back to sleep. He makes coffee while the other men gossip about what happened to Roy. The other men go back to sleep, and James thinks about the girl in his past. He was so struck by her that he could only stare at her until she asked him why he stared. He told her that she was so beautiful that he knew he was falling for her.

James goes outside and sits on a bench at the lake. He is joined by Leonard, who tells him that he is at the facility because his mentor, Mikey the Nose, got clean after years of using and asked Leonard to do the same. Unfortunately, shortly after making this request, Mikey was killed in a drive-by shooting. Leonard says that Mikey’s last piece of advice to him was to hold on. At lunch, James bumps into Lilly and she passes him a note that requests an afternoon meeting. James goes to the goal board and writes that he wants to be a Laker Girl. He fills out the AA workbook by writing one word on each page. He brings the book back to Ken’s office and goes to his room to read the Tao again. At a unit meeting with Lincoln, Lincoln tells the men that Roy has multiple-personality disorder. Lincoln and James go to a meeting in Joanne’s office, where she confronts James about the coloring book and his goal and urges him to take the Twelve Step program more seriously. James reveals that he doesn’t want safety. He wants a test of his will to be sober.

James goes to the woods to meet Lilly and waits. He falls asleep until she wakes him and asks if he has a girlfriend. He tells her about the girl from the past. Lilly tells James that she is at the facility because of her grandmother. She asks him to tell her about his girlfriend, but he says it’s too painful. She tells him to tell her about losing his virginity. He tells her a story about lying to his parents about having a date to the homecoming dance, and how he pretended he was going to the dance, when in fact he was out finding a hooker so he could lose his virginity. Lilly holds him and kisses him good-bye. Later she calls him to tell him she misses him. James walks to his room. He stops outside and listens to Miles playing. He falls asleep thinking of the Tao.


James has obviously turned a corner. He has a steady group of people that he sits with at every single meal, whereas he previously ate alone and ate purely to “fill” himself, filling the emptiness that he feels lurking within him. Now, he refers to his mealtime companions as “friends” and experiences a level of contentedness that he doesn’t seem to remember previous to this. There is much laughing and joking at their table during lunch. James is finding that the laughter fills him in a way that blindly stuffing himself with food, or taking drugs, couldn’t. He notes that it feels good to laugh, an indication that he hasn’t done it in so long that he’s forgotten what it feels like.

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