Book choice for August 2008

A Million Little Pieces [suggested by Wendy Williams]

front cover

When he entered a residential treatment centre at the age of twenty-three, James Frey had destroyed his body and his mind almost beyond repair.  He faced a stark choice: accept that he wasn't going to see twenty-four or step into the fallout of his smoking wreck of a life and take drastic action.  Surrounded by patients as troubled as he, Frey had to fight to find his own way to confront the consequences of the life he had lived so far, and to determine what future, if any, he has.  A Million Little Pieces is an uncommon account of a life destroyed and a life reconstructed. [from]

About the Author

James Frey is an American writer and the author of the current bestseller, Bright Shiny Morning.  He graduated from Denison University and also attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  His first memoir, A Million Little Pieces, was published by Nan Talese/Doubleday in spring 2003.  Its follow-up, My Friend Leonard (also a memoir) was published by Riverhead in summer 2005.  Both books became New York Times #1 bestsellers.  In late 2005 and early 2006, investigators discovered that elements of his memoir, A Million Little Pieces, were untrue.  Frey, along with his family, currently resides in New York City.

The above is adapted from Frey's Wikipedia entry.  Many of the Google references to the "fabrication" of this month's chosen novel, including statements from both the publisher and the author, are suspiciously broken, but you can read more here, or on the book's own Wikipedia page.


Shortlisted for this month

The nominator can now decide whether to bring one, two, or three books to be chosen by the group (or mandated in the case of only one book being selected).  This month, Wendy suggested one other book besides the above - something she first nominated back in February 2007:

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper

The difficult choices a family must make when a child is diagnosed with a serious disease are explored with pathos and understanding in this 11th novel by Picoult (Second Glance, etc.).  The author, who has taken on such controversial subjects as euthanasia (Mercy), teen suicide (The Pact) and sterilization laws (Second Glance), turns her gaze on genetic planning, the prospect of creating babies for health purposes and the ethical and moral fallout that results.  Kate Fitzgerald has a rare form of leukemia.  Her sister, Anna, was conceived to provide a donor match for procedures that become increasingly invasive. At 13, Anna hires a lawyer so that she can sue her parents for the right to make her own decisions about how her body is used when a kidney transplant is planned.  Meanwhile, Jesse, the neglected oldest child of the family, is out setting fires, which his firefighter father, Brian, inevitably puts out.  Picoult uses multiple viewpoints to reveal each character's intentions and observations, but she doesn't manage her transitions as gracefully as usual; a series of flashbacks are abrupt.  Nor is Sara, the children's mother, as well developed and three-dimensional as previous Picoult protagonists.  Her devotion to Kate is understandable, but her complete lack of sympathy for Anna's predicament until the trial does not ring true, nor can we buy that Sara would dust off her law degree and represent herself in such a complicated case.  Nevertheless, Picoult ably explores a complex subject with bravado and clarity, and comes up with a heart-wrenching, unexpected plot twist at the book's conclusion. [Copyright � Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.]

About the Author

Jodi Picoult, 39, is the bestselling author of thirteen novels.  She was born and raised on Long Island and studied creative writing with Mary Morris at Princeton, having two short stories published in Seventeen magazine while still a student.  She held down a series of different jobs following her graduation: technical writer for a Wall Street brokerage firm, copywriter at an ad agency, editor at a textbook publisher, and as an 8th grade English teacher - before entering Harvard to pursue a master's in education.  She married Tim Van Leer, and it was while she was pregnant with her first child that she wrote her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale.  She and Tim and their three children live in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Read more smug self-satisfied drivel on her website.  Have a bucket handy.


Previous Months' Book Choices

July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006