Monday, October 18, 2010

A Million Little Pieces


A Million Little Pieces opens with the narrator, James, waking up on an airplane with no recollection of how we got there or where he is going. Badly tattered, he has a hole in his cheek, four broken teeth, and a broken nose. James eventually finds out that the plane is bound for Chicago and that a doctor and two unidentified men brought him on board. James lands to find his parents, who have come all the way from Tokyo to pick him up, waiting for him. We soon find out that James is 23 years old and has been an alcoholic for ten years, a crack addict for three, and is wanted by the police in three different states on several charges. James's parents are saddened by his appearance and drive him to the family cabin. The next day, they check him into a rehabilitation facility in Minnesota where he is forced to quit his substance abuse. As part of this, he must undergo a series of painful root canals, without any Novocaine because of possible negative reactions to the drugs.

Things improve somewhat when James meets a young woman named Lilly at the dispensary and a friendly, middle-aged career criminal named Leonard at a meal. Both become his friends. Throughout his stay, he refuses to buy into the notion of victim hood, and instead chooses to blame his misfortunes solely on himself and as the result of his own decisions. Because of this view he rejects the concept of the Twelve Steps that is recommended to him at the clinic and chooses to proceed with his recovery without complaint or blame on others, and also with the knowledge that he will die if he begins his substance abuse again.

A Million Little Pieces shows the average struggle of an addict pushing through the hardships and obstacles of Rehab. James learns the value of friendship and learns to take responsibility for his actions, while opening his heart to a stranger against the rules of the Rehab. Throughout the book, one will see how James copes with his painful and horrifying with drawls and will see the dangers of James's potential of relapsing. The reader will often find them self wondering if James will fall in love with Lilly, continue his friendship with Leonard, and stay sober after rehab.

Discussion Questions:
1.) If a family member of yours was an addict and admitted into rehab, how would you support them and help them through their experience? Would you forgive them for their mistakes? Would you try to not let them relapse?

2.) If you were in a situation where you met someone who you were attracted to, would you go against the rules just to meet up with them or would you end it there and abide by the rules?

3.)Do you think that because James is not following the Twelve Steps and is taking full responsibility for his actions he will have more difficulties coping with his past addictions?


10 comments:

Heather M. 13-14 said...

This comment is in response to question #1. If a member of my family or anyone very important to me was admitted into rehab, I would do all that i could to help them. Even though the choices that they made were poor and probably life- threatening, I would still care about them and want to support them in any way possible. I would most likely forgive them because I would want them to feel better about themselves whcih could help assist them in overcoming their addiction. I would do my best to get them through rehab successfully and avoid a relapse because family means a lot to me. Most people would probably do anything in their power to help a family member even if they don't agree with their choices or actions.

Bojana D 11.12 said...

In response to question 2, I would meet up with them because if I didn't I would always wonder "what if?" I am not the type of person to live with regrets so I would take my chances and see what happens. Sometimes, I think you have to break the rules in order to experience life.

Vanessa D. 13-14 said...

Heather- Yes, I totally agree. I think that with the support of family members, it is easier for the addict to overcome their obstacles. I also would do anything I could to prevent a relapse and would forgive them because they are family, after all, and grudges only hurt.

Bojana- I agree. Although it may be scary to go against the rules of a rehab center because there could be major consequences, I too would always wonder what if.

Kristen R. 11-12 said...

To answer the first question, if someone I knew was undergoing an addiction problem, I would first let them know that while I am disappointed in their decision, I do forgive them. I think it's important to stress to them that it is a mistake, but that mistakes are made to be learned from. Additionally, I would stress that whatever problem is causing them to engage in drugs or excessive alcohol is only a temporary problem, whereas the potential death from a drug overdose or other harmful addictive habit is a permanent solution. To answer the second question, if I were truly in love with this person I would definitely go against the rules to meet up with them if I thought the attraction was worth pursuing. However, I would tell them that in order for us to have a healthy relationship , the bad habit has to stop. If the person really loved me I think that they would try to correct the problem not only for their own good but for the good of the relationship as well.

KatherineS13-14 said...

1) Of course I would help and support a member of my family, no matter what. I would forgive that person and still love them. I would do anything to help that person get better and not relapse.
2) If it was simply attraction, I would probably not break the rule. However if I had very strong feelings for that other person, I would break any rule to be with them.
3) I believe that James deciding to put the responsibility on himself will not make coping with his past any harder. He realizes that he may have had a tough life, but his decision to cope with it by drugs and alcohol was HIS decision. He may have a harder time following the program, but he has come up with his own that seems to work for him.

Vanessa D. 13-14 said...

Kristin and Kat- I agree with you both. I think helping the member of the family would be the most important thing to do to help them, while stressing that the must learn from their mistakes.

Natalie S Mods 5-6 said...

1)If I had a family member admitted to rehab, I would be there to support them 100%. I would forgive them as long as they were making an effort to get better, which they are if they are following through with rehab. I would do everything in my power to keep them away from relapsing.
2)If I met someone I was attracted to enough, I would break the rules for them. If I find out that they are not worth the rule breaking though, I would end it.
3)I think James taking all the responsibility on himself is brave but it will definitely be much harder. I think that the healing process will be harder on his own but once he completes it, he will be such a strong person for persevering through it that he will have no trouble staying away from his past addictions.

Emily C. 13-14 said...

3) i think that doing it his own and taking the responsibility would be harder, but doing this might help him recover because he is putting the blame on himself and doing it his own way, which might be a better way to deal with it than the Twleve Steps. Everyone recovers differently so James doing it his own, and because he is taking the responsibility, might work out better for him.

Sarah 5-6 said...

To answer question one: I would definately support a family member if they were in rehab. I would write letters, bake stuff or them :) and visit whenever I could just so they knew that their family was still there for them. I would always forgive family because no matter what happens in life, family will always be there for you. Everyone makes mistakes in life and if they're willing to change their bad habits, why wouldn't you forgive them? Ofcourse I would help them not relapse because I want them to live forever and ever! In my eyes family comes first and I would never turn my back on family especially when they have always been there for me.

Dana D 11-12 said...

1. I would definitely support any family or friends that were in rehab because it shows that they are on their way to a better life. Everyone makes mistakes in life, some worse than others, but it doesn't make them a bad person. I would try to keep them from relapsing in any way I could. I think it could help by showing the person how much they mean to you and the pain it would cause if they were to continue on with their lifestyle.

2. You can't control who you're attracted to just because it's against some set of rules. I think if I were in that situation I would probably continue seeing them.

3. I think that James has a healthier view of his situation. If you constantly blame everyone else for your problems how are you going to better yourself? Eventhough the 12 step program may be the proper way to get through rehab I feel like he is doing it a better way by taking responsibility for his own actions. I think this will actually help him in his recovery.