March 19, 2009

a million little pieces

I decided I wanted to read this book after all the controversy around it came to fruition. Like they say, any press is good press right? So I just finished reading it, and it is phenomenal. James Frey is a really gifted writer, and I don't care if the entire experience is made up – the man can tell a compelling story! Wow.

I know a few people who are in AA, but prior to reading the book I didn't know anything about the 12 steps. I had no idea what a large part faith in God played. Through the entire book, counselors are telling him that the 12 steps are the only thing that work, but because he doesn't believe in God he says that he won't be able to follow the steps. I haven't read any book that is a bestseller that takes such an anti-religious standpoint. I think his view of God and his refusal to conquer his addiction by putting faith in something he does not believe in is the most riveting part of the book. Although he does want to get clean, he is not willing to compromise and feign belief in a higher power in order to try and stay sober. I think it's really admirable that after everything he's been through he listens to himself and it is his own determination to remain sober. To him it's a matter of willpower and control.

The whole time I was reading it I was expecting him to give into the 12 steps and to find God. I figured that was the reason the book was a bestseller. I'm so glad he didn't because it would have turned the book into some sort of religious propaganda, and frankly that's not what I signed up for when picked it up. I think this aspect is what made his story so successful – the fact that it doesn't get preachy, and that it is merely one man recounting his experience. Personally I got the sense while reading the book that he did not expect the book to become as popular as it did, and it seems he wrote the book more for himself than for the general public. Even if he did make most of it up, I don't care because sometimes the truth isn't nearly as interesting as fiction.

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