Friday, January 19, 2007

A Million Little Pieces Essay Question

“We read to know we’re not alone.” (C.S. Lewis)
This quote defines A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.
Frey battles with his drug addiction and gets help by going to rehab. The rehab effectively supports Frey's road to recovery due to the staff working with him that were previous drug-addicts.
Throughout Frey's stay in the rehab center, he develops relationships with people just like him. He's able to express what he did/went through in life without judgment from the patients in his ward. Everyone in rehab has their own story; and this aides Frey to continue with his recovery.
Along the way, Frey gets encouragement from the staff that motivates him to stay strong and not go back to old habits in times of stress.
One member on the staff, Lincoln, says "For whatever it's worth...I'm proud of you" (363). This simple phrase has Frey respond with gratitude and makes Frey realize that he has accomplished a lot and can live a drug-free life.
Knowing that Frey isn't alone is important to him. Frey falls in love with a woman in rehab who is a crack-addict; Lily. Frey tries to spend as much time as he can with Lily. Frey wants to get better not only for him, but also for Lily. Frey develops a relationship with someone who won’t look down on him, which is a huge deal since Frey has never felt that kind of love in his life. In a way, Frey’s thought process is a lot clearer with Lily by his side. Frey replaces his drug-addict urges to use. Instead of thinking about drugs, Frey has nice thoughts about Lily.
Frey even develops another relationship with an older man, which is more like a father-son relationship. This man’s name is Leonard. Leonard treats Frey like his own son and drags Frey back to rehab when Frey tries to escape. Towards the end of Leonard’s recovery time at rehab, he states, “If you ever need anything, doesn’t matter where you are or what you need, you find me and I’ll take care of you” (388). Frey is taken aback by this act of kindness and believes in himself again. Frey sees that others care for him, so Frey should take better care of himself.
As Frey shows, it’s better to be with someone or in Frey’s case; with a lot of supportive people, through life. And when you realize you’re not alone, you’re more likely to succeed and be happier in life.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Million Little Pieces~OR#8

For my first blog about this novel, I talked about the author's use of vulgar language and how it related to James Frey's drug-addicky mind. I predicted that towards the end of the novel that the language would get better due to Frey being drug-free.
Well, my prediction was half-right. My bet on explicits becoming less frequent was true, but my thoughts on why that would happen were false. In this last section of the novel, it is clear that Frey uses less of his atrocious language during times of frustration and rage. Frey expresses his feelings and thoughts by describing his pain(without all the extra explicits).
But when Frey is in an altercation with another individual, his "devilish side" comes out (which was not a part of my prediction). Frey uses his strong words to taunt and bully the person that is hurting him.
Frey says, "I said f*** you, you f****** A**hole. She's not a f****** lesson"(345). Frey says this as he is engaged in a heated argument with a staff member in rehab. Frey gets defensive and livid; which makes him go back to his old mechanisms of defense: tearing the other person down with threatening language. Frey's personality of rebellion by using swear words comes out when he is talking to this staff member. Frey wants to use the banned taboo words in an effort to outshine the power that the staff member has over Frey.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Million Little Pieces~OR# 7

James Frey's character is beginning to mature. Since Frey has been off drugs and alcohol for some time now, he obviously, has a clearer mind. Frey is starting to see life in a fresh and somewhat adult-like perspective.
Frey is maturing as a character by expressing his thoughts on his addiction and what he knows he is capable of doing/not doing. Frey realizes that he has to make the most out of his situation in rehab; because, like the doctors warned him, Frey will die if he takes another hit of a drug. For now, Frey decides that it's best that he stays in rehab. As it is, I'm glad that Frey is still in rehab due to him being more of a risk-taker (it's almost as if he's now a rebellious adult).
As a reader, I'm a little skeptical as to if Frey's maturing is for better or for the worse. I believe that Frey's newly aquired independence is going to end up hurting him. It would be much better if Frey lets professionals take care of him, as opposed to Frey taking care of himself. Frey's stance on where he plans to be after rehab, quite frankly; scares the bejesus out of me!
Frey says, "I don't believe in Higher Powers and the Twelve Steps or anything related to them, and that is all they teach in Halfway Houses. It'll be a waste of my time"(326).
In other words, Frey opts to NOT go into any kind of halfway house because he thinks that it would be a waste of his time! All that was running through my mind when I read that passage was, "What a ludicrous idea, good luck with that one, Frey!" It's bad enough that 85% of people that come out of intense in-patient rehab relapse within the first year of getting out; so Frey deciding to NOT have further life-long treatment for his disease is absoulutely positively absurd!
As frustrating as it is, I hope that my predictions on Frey do not come true, and, he instead, matures into a drug-free professional and dignified man. From Frey's actions in this part of the novel, I would be very surprised if he were to be successful in life after rehab.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Million Little Pieces~OR#6

I'm very amazed at the positive turn of events that came in this section of the book. It seems that James Freys' ducks are finally starting to line up for him. One of James' fellow addicts makes this comment to him: "I'm proud of you, Kid. It seems like you're doing all the right things..."(318).
As a reader, this section of the novel was a relief. All of the nagging and fighting was causing me to lose interest in the book at an alarming exponential rate!
Thank goodness that this book has some positive aspects to it. I now believe that James has "it" in him to recover. He's starting to tell others of his dreams for a life free of drugs. Although this is a tiny step towards a hard and long life of recovery, I'm still hopeful that this novel will continue to become more positive, and hopefully create a new theme of success among the addicts at the recovery center?!
So my prediction for the closing of the novel is that James and his "frienemmies" at the Clinic will all graduate together, and will live healthy and productive lives.

A Million Little Pieces~OR#5

This story is getting a little boring due to its' relentless theme of complaining. A typical conversation-starter between patients at the center is complaining about how horrible they feel, for instance,"I am dealing with feelings of shame, James. That's why I was in here all day yesterday. It was shame..."(243). In a sick way, this is how most of the patients relate to each other and make friends. They compare and contrast who has had the hardest life and ponder on that thought. I sometimes wonder if this does more harm than good; expressing and getting the occasional "tip" from how to deal and be a thug on the streets. For those who sincerely want to get better, hearing these horror stories aren't very motivating...
And for the reader, this type of gibberish of going on and on is frustrating. I know it makes perfect sense that all of the addicts hooked up in a recovery center would vent, but i mean, come on already, this is getting annoying....(no pun intended)
The characters all reflect about why they are in the recovery center, how they got there, and ironically, don't talk about getting better or how to achieve their goals once they are out. I believe that a prominent reason why 85% of the addicts relapse when they come out of the recovery center is due to the roller-coaster environment of high ups and low downs. I'm not a psychologist or a physician so I can't say what's good/bad for these people, but it would be fair to say that it would be responsible for the professionals to try to filter out as much of the negative atmosphere of complaining as possible.
Rebuilding a person's life would be much easier, at least for me, if there weren't negative people around me complaining all of the time!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Million Little Pieces~OR#4

Dear James Frey,
I'm writing a letter to you to tell you how proud I am of how much you have accomplished so far. You have been sober for almost a month now, and it's wonderful to see that you have chosen to live and "hold on."
Whenever you get down, think of all of the people in your support system: your parents, friends, counselors, and Lilly. Don't disappoint them; and most importantly, don't disappoint yourself. Get better because you want to get better, don't do anything on anyone else's terms.
Feel good about the future; don't be depressed about what you did in the past. I know that it may be hard to do; but try and laugh once in a while. After all, Laughter is the best remedy....
You know what, there is something worse than being a drug addict like you for ten years, it's being a drug addict for ten years and one day.
There is a way out of this hole that you feel that you are in. You need to re-define who you are; stop saying to yourself, "I am an Alcoholic and a drug Addict..."(241). Being an addict and an alcoholic is not Who You Are, it's What You Do.
Remember, you were somebody full of life before you started using. You weren't born addicted to alcohol and drugs. Find that "happy place" of when you were a child, and get addicted to living a productive life.
The Best of Wishes,

A Million Little Pieces-OR#3

In this section of the novel, Frey has visitors at the rehab center: Frey's brother and friends.
I can definately relate to this part of the novel because I have visited a family friend in a rehab facility. This novel brings back an influx of memories for me, some I wish not to remember....
My experience as a visitor at a recovery facility for alcoholics was brutal. My first memory is entering the all- white facility and taking in a heart-stopping whiff of strong cleaning products. As I was going through the halls to visit one of my family friends, whom I'll call Nancy, I would hear people screaming at the top of their lungs every now and then. The environment of rehab practically made ME sick to my stomach. As we were visiting Nancy, she seemed quite distant from us; she wouldn't was like she wasn't completely in reality or something. The solemn personality that Nancy had in rehab resembles that of Frey. Nancy and Frey both aren't sure of themselves and their ability to recover.

I definately feel for Frey's brother and friends visiting Frey in rehab. Some of the things that shocked Frey's brother and friends at the rehab place are exactly what shocked me when I visited Nancy in rehab, (especially the mind-boggling screaming)!
One quotation from A Million Little Pieces reads, "My Brother and Julie and Kirk stare at the dark, barred windows and my Brother asks me what's happening inside and why people are screaming...even after we pass, the screams are still inside all of our heads"(128).
This passage clearly illustrates the setting for the uncomfortable environment at a rehab center, and the uncannily similar experience that I had of hearing people scream at Nancy's recovery facility.

A Million Little Pieces-OR#2

"I was in a Room alone and I didn't know where I was or how I got there and I was drinking and doing drugs and I got annihilated. It seemed real and when I woke up I was scared"(53).
As a reader, this passage really grabs my attention. It really shows me the life of a drug addict through the eyes of one. Frey dreams of drugs. Drugs are his life. Frey still craves drugs, so his subconscious mind ends up expressing this deep desire through a "user dream."
As a non-drug user, I've never really understood why people waste away their lives being addicted to drugs (after all, it damages your body, your mind, and your spirit) ... I've known people that have been addicted to drugs, and sometimes, I've just wanted to shake them and tell them to stop using.
But now I know that it's just not that easy...Drugs chemically alter one's brain, so when the body stops using, the cravings don't stop....they just get stronger and stronger...
until something happens. I find it really scary that drugs are soooo powerful that a user finally has to make a choice between life and death. Life means going to rehab and doing the painful steps to recovery and death means continuing on the path of drugs.
Adreneline pumps through my body every time I start reading. I'm hoping for Frey to continue on the path of recovery, but then my hopes are slashed when Frey mentions of an easier way out....which is to just start using again. I find myself rooting for Frey, I honestly hopes that he recovers.
I'm definately starting to understand a different way of life. I'm glad that I'm reading this book because now I can see first hand the process that a drug user goes through in dealing with his addiction.
It's so tragic, yet addicting to read how an addict does EVERYTHING in his/her power to get high.

A Million Little Pieces-Outside reading

When I read the first few pages of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, I was completely shocked. Not because of the vivid images(that often provide too much gross information) that the author paints in his writing, but because of the bad language that is used.
I have never read a book in my entire life that has the "f bomb" as every other word...I actually think it's kind of funny... I mean this book really has a strong voice, and you feel like the author is speaking just to you; loud and clear, about his lethal bout with drug/alcohol abuse.

Here is one line that illustrates my point...Frey says, "I need to get out of here, Dad. Just get me the f*** out of here"(3).
As you can see, Frey uses the "f bomb" even around his parents in public, at the airport. If James Frey does this in public, you can imagine all of the other graphic language that he would use by himself or in an uncontrollable rage.

But WHY all the swear words and such?:
A) James Frey is a drug addict, so it makes it realistic with his frustration towards everything
B) Swear words may be just a part of Frey's personality and his life (Frey claimes to have lived on the streets for a while, so his rough life and gang-banger lingo from the streets would become a core part of Frey's everyday life)
C)Frey is still on drugs(it will take a while to get detoxified due to all the damage that he's caused to his body)

I'm very interested to see how often the swear words will be used in Frey's writing when Frey sobers up....Is the swearing meant to illustrate Frey on drugs, or is the swearing a part of Frey's sober personality? I will be very interested to see how the writing style changes as Frey evolves as a character throughout the novel... I bet that Frey will use more adult-like language as he gets further along in his recovery.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

important passage

I think that it's awesome when Padre Gabriel says "We cannot remain indifferent to the grievous blows that have afflicted so many good Dominican homes..."
To see the church finally stand up against the government was a total relief for me. The Church is supposed to be a refuge where Dominicans can go and feel safe; not like they have to hide their beleifs about the government.
For Dominicans to hear someone respectable and of high authority like Padre Gabriel say something so controversial, gives hope to the majority of Dominicans who are lost and don't see light at the end of the dark tunnel that Trujillio created. I found it so interesting how the Church was immediately stopped for their controversial actions...those spies must really be everywhere?!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Is it worth it????

The revolution that the Mirabal sisters got themselves into was a HUGE mistake! The fact that they got their children involved in the mess makes me livid. In chapter nine, as Maria Teresa is being taken away; her little girl Jacqueline screams for her. How tragic is that? The children of the Mirabal sisters are being thrust into a situation in which they didn't choose.
No child wants to be abandoned from their parents due to a political battle that can't be won. I don't understand what those sisters were thinking....What could have possibly motivated them enough to destroy their families and risk the lives of their children in order to achieve the "freedom" that they so miserably failed at doing. The sisters accomplished nothing.nothing.nothing.
There would have eventually been a group of organized liberators who had the capability to take over Trujillio, the Mirabal sisters weren't the only ones who were aggravated with the regime. The sisters had too much going on in their lives...and to risk everything for nothing doesn't make any sense whatsoever.