We haven’t hooked up cable and Internet at the new house yet, and this has led to a dramatic increase in my offline reading. Seriously. We moved less than two weeks ago, and I’ve finished two books and started a third.

I want to start sharing some thoughts on the books I’m reading here, so this is the first book review installment.

The first book I finished in the new house was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Thanks to Oprah and Frey’s aptitude for the not-so-little white lie, most of you are probably familiar.

I was skeptical. Going in, I knew that what I would be reading had been passed off as truth and revealed to be mostly made-up. Even so, I got lost in the story. The story is of Frey’s trip to rehab after nearly killing himself through drug and alcohol abuse. He wakes up on an airplane, not knowing how he got there, missing teeth and with sores and wounds galore. His family has sent for him, desperate, bringing him to a rehab center that will be his last chance.

The first half or so of the book is painful, because fact or fiction, it’s a look into the life of an addict. Frey portrays himself as angry, stubborn and woefully lost to substances that have taken over his entire life. He doesn’t remember chunks of time. He doesn’t remember the last morning he woke up and didn’t vomit.

Throughout, Frey displays resistance to the program the rehab center is attempting to help him through. He declares that he doesn’t want to substitute one addiction for another by looking to a “higher power” to help him. He breaks the rules by entering a relationship with a female patient, Lilly. But he manages to grasp on to the fragile remaining tendrils of a relationship with his family, learning to suppress a rage he has felt since he was a child and to accept and give love. He makes it through the program in his own way and with help from friends and family, sometimes unwelcome but wanted more often near the end of his time in rehab.

I can’t imagine a deeper look into the mind and life of an addict, and I don’t doubt that Frey struggled with a horrible addiction. The book also called attention to the fact that addictions aren’t just to drugs – they can be to anything.

In the end, though, I was disappointed that a story that asks for so much investment from the reader isn’t real at all. Frey casually includes a list at the end of the book of where the “characters” are now; more than half of them have died. It made me rather angry to read their information, knowing that Frey most likely defiled their memory by formulating interactions, relationships and possibly even entire people that never existed.

The book was well written and a good read, altogether, but I found I just couldn’t get past Frey’s dishonesty. Grade: C+
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