Tag: Memoirs

James Frey – A Million Little Pieces | Review

Title: A Million Little Pieces

Author: James Frey

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 518

Rating: 4.25/5

I was given this as a birthday present from someone who’d read it themselves and enjoyed it and who’d seen that it was on my ridiculously large want to readlist. I don’t actually get given books that often because more often than not, I end up resenting them because I feel as though I have to read them whether I want to or not. But as this was off my big old list, we dodged that problem.

I think I first heard about this on BookTube, although I can’t remember who was talking about it. It basically instantly went on to my wish list because it’s a non-fiction drug book and I’ve always been partial to books about drugs. I even quite like it when you get references to opium in stuff like The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy falls asleep in a field of poppies.

Because I find the subject matter interesting, I was pretty much guaranteed to like this one. However, there are some other factors that come into play too. For example, the dialogue is written without quotation marks or indeed any form of punctuation, which some people might offputting. It’s the first thing I noticed when flicking through it and that, combined with a blurb from Irvine Welsh on the back, made me think it might be a tricky read. It turns out to actually work better and to flow more smoothly like that.

I guess that’s because of the style of the book. It’s written as a sort of stream-of-consciousness memoir and reads as though Frey is just chatting to you at a bar, and so this style of punctuation is perfect. At the same time though, I’m sure it’s not quite to everyone’s tastes, and that’s okay. And besides, if you like drug stories but you can’t deal with the punctuation, there’s always the movie version, which I’ll probably watch at some point or another.

Other than that, I’m not sure that there’s much more that I can tell you. I think as long as you have an interest in the subject matter – that of a recovering addict trying to get clean – and you don’t mind dialogue when it’s oddly formatted, you’re in for a treat. I will say that he spends the majority of the book either thinking about drugs or wishing he was dead, and so it can sometimes feel a little samey, but that can’t really be helped due to the subject matter and you have to respect the honesty.

Overall then, I’d definitely recommend this one, especially if you have an interest in drug and addiction memoirs. Otherwise, if you’re worried about trigger warnings or if it just makes you unhappy to read about stuff like this then maybe give it a miss. You’d be missing out on a good read, but it’s also a difficult one that can be quite confrontational too. As for me, I’m glad that I read it. A good gift!

Learn more about A Million Little Pieces.

 


Dalia Grinkeviciute – Shadows on the Tundra | Review

Title: Shadows on the Tundra

Author: Dalia Grinkeviciute

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 208

Rating 4.5/5

 

 

This book almost didn’t exist, but I’m glad that it does. Grinkeviciute was 14-years-old when the Soviets deported her from her native Lithuania during the 1940s, and she found herself essentially in a work camp in Siberia with people dropping dead left and right around her. She escaped, was caught, and managed to escape again, eventually writing these memoirs and burying them in the back garden in case the Soviet state discovered them. They were eventually found several years after her death.

As you can imagine, that means that it’s a pretty dark read with its fair share of harrowing scenes, and for me it was a lot of the little details that really hit me hard. For example, because they were struggling to survive on the tundra, the ground was frozen solid with permafrost even in the middle of summer, which made it difficult for them to dig graves. One woman was found frozen solid five months after disappearing and when they rolled her over, fresh blood leaked out of her nose. The fact that she survived is nothing short of incredible.

 

 

Click here to buy Shadows on the Tundra.