I recently finished this book and I’m still reeling at how it made my mind race. I guess, in part, I connected to this book and his story because I have grappled with addiction. I think it also made my guts turn inside out because I kept thinking that I could have wandered that far off track.
This is a story about a guy who is so far gone he literally does not care about living tomorrow. He will do any drug he can get his hands on, takes it all to the extreme and is beyond your average alcoholic based on the details of his consumption.
The story begins with him coming to on an airplane. He has no idea where he is or how he got there. He’s covered in blood, beat up, tattered and barely able to walk. Little does he know, he’s on his way to rehab.
The book is about this man’s journey through addiction, rehab and dealing with his skeletons while meeting people who he doesn’t realize are changing his life one meeting at a time.
If you or any one you know is struggling with addiction or alcoholism, this is a book that will give you a very humbling awakening and deeper look into the mind and struggles of an addict/alcoholic. Be ready to be smacked in the face with the realness and rawness of addiction.
James Frey’s story-telling ability is impeccable. You truly are inside the mind of a junkie. His simplistic rants and the nature in which he depicts some of the darkest days of his life are absolutely fascinating.
This book received raving reviews from even the likes of Oprah. There was actually some controversy and scandal over this book because it seemed that some of the stories and details of his past did not match up against further investigation.
It is said that James Frey embellished the truth about his arrest records and some of the characters, but to me that is only a minor part of what makes this book remarkable. I could care less if there were exaggerations or not. If there were, they were tastefully done in an effort to make the story hit home and to demonstrate the severity of the situation.
This story cuts to the core. It shakes you and it grabs a hold of your brain. I literally read all 350 pages in 5 days. I could not put the book down because I wanted to know what happened next.
I did struggle with parts of the story as James was in no way, shape or form a Christian. In fact, he didn’t believe in God or a higher power. At least, not at the time. It’s my understanding that he is now a practicing believer.
However, I think the piece of this journey that makes it the most significant is that he defies the odds. He doesn’t believe in the 12-Step Program. He doesn’t want to go to AA. He just wants to get clean and live his life, sober.
He takes a very strong stance on taking responsibility for your actions, for getting sober by making the next right decision and that he does not want to replace his substance addictions with meetings for the rest of his life.
I connected to this because I, too, did not want to do AA or NA. I was able to beat the odds myself and achieved sobriety by the grace of God. That’s it. I’m not knocking AA, as I know it is a very good program for many people. It just was not for me. Instead, I shifted my faith from the bottle and the booger sugar to the Bible.
I can appreciate Frey’s mentality and I respect that he was brave enough to write about his story. It is a gripping tale about a very lost young man, struggling with things we all face as humans, and it shows how he transforms from an angry, helpless and hopeless addict to a person who is ready to man up and face life with responsibility and a realness that I only wish we all had. He shoots it very straight and actually becomes very in tune with his inner dialogue and feelings, surprisingly.
That’s how you do it! Life change, of any magnitude, is about being brave and being bold enough to face yourself. It requires that you get intimately familiar with everything that has made you into who you are today. The good, bad, ugly, shameful, regretful. All those nasty parts of our lives that we tend to tuck away, or hastily bury away.
Some of us drown out the uncomfortable pieces of life with food. Others with alcohol. Drugs. Gambling. Sex. Anger. Compulsiveness. Anxiety.
What ever your poison, if you are willing to take a deeper look, you CAN overcome it.
In order to do so, we must be willing to bring it all back up to the surface and sift through the past. We have to come to terms with what is there, no matter how messy it is, and then let it stay there – in the past where it belongs – so we can move forward into a healthier future where history does not repeat itself.
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