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.
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
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.