Study Guide

A Million Little Pieces Setting

By James Frey

Setting

Hazelden Clinic, mid-1990s

Although James doesn't name the clinic in the book—he refers to it only as the "oldest Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facility in the World" (1.2.42)—it is now known that it is based on the real-life Hazelden clinic.

Even though Hazelden's success rate is 17 percent—"the best success rate of any Treatment Center in the World" (2.2.150)—James tries to make it seem more like the asylum from American Horror Story than the place of healing that it's reputed to be. The staff breaks confidentiality rules, the patients are violent and abusive, and at night "there were screams coming from within" (2.1.3) the medical unit.

Did Frey fabricate these things to make Hazelden out to be a villain in his story? Could reality actually have been that bad? All we know is that Hazelden disputes Frey's depiction of the facility in the book, though they cannot reveal whether or not Frey was a patient there due to confidentiality agreements.

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