My Friend Leonard is the story of an extraordinary friendship formed in the most unlikely circumstances.
While in rehab, James Frey finds a father figure in Leonard, a shady mafia boss. When Leonard returns to his dubious, prosperous life in the criminal underworld of Las Vegas, he promises James his support on the outside.
Tragedy strikes the day James is released and his world seems set to implode. Unsure where to turn, he calls Leonard. Paradoxically, it is in Leonard’s lawless underworld that James discovers the courage and humanity needed to rebuild his life.
(From: Frey, 2006)
There are two plots running concurrently throughout this book. James’ and Leonard’s. James’ plot was predictable and at times felt as though it lacked direction. Leonard’s plot was much more exciting with some massively unexpected, yet pleasant twists.
The engaging writer’s voice keeps the Reader reading on. The plot is suitably fast-paced and slower-paced in all the appropriate places. The Reader will empathise with the characters and come to care for them. This in turn creates a desire in the Reader to find out what happens to them.
Aged just twenty-three, James Frey had destroyed his body and his mind almost beyond repair. When he enters a rehabilitation centre to try to reclaim his life, he has to fight to determine what future, if any, he has. His lack of self-pity, cynicism and piety gives him an unflinching honesty – a fearless candour that is at once charming and appalling, searing and darkly funny.
(From: Frey, 2004)
Frey takes the reader on his rollercoaster of a journey to recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. It starts with him waking up on a plane with no memory of how he got there, what happened to his face or where he’s going.
A Million Little Pieces is set during Frey’s stay in rehab; is well paced and has plenty of tension, conflict and resolution. Both internally and externally. He recalls memories of his dysfunctional and chaotic alcohol and drug using past.
Stylistically A Million Little Pieces lacked speech marks, but this was possibly deliberate. Not having speech marks was a noticeable stylistic change to the normal layout of a book. Frey was probably using this to subtly hint that his story wasn’t like the story of most people. Frey’s lack of dialogue tags was generally acceptable, but on the odd occasion where Frey had written a scene with a group of people, it did get difficult to establish who had said what.
Towards the end of A Million Little Pieces it began to feel fictional. As I was coming to the end of the book and had enjoyed reading it, I decided to look into other books that Frey had written.
Oprah had to respond to these revelations and interviewed Frey on a few occasions. The most recent, a few years after A Million Little Pieces was exposed as being in part fictional is available to watch below:
But I wasn’t in the slightest bit surprised that some of A Million Little Pieces was fact and some was fiction. Because that’s how it read. Who wouldn’t change some of their past if they had the chance? Don’t we all do that all the time? Change things to make them sound better or worse than they actually are with the aim of making our stories more interesting to our friends, family, co-workers, etc. Can we really blame Frey for doing the same for the reader?
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