Study Guide

A Million Little Pieces Family

By James Frey

Family

Although it is expensive to come here, many of our Patients are here on scholarships that we fun through subsidies that we support. (1.2.42)

Although this quote isn't explicitly about family, it subtly lets us know that James's parents are loaded enough to put him up in this facility. He ain't on no scholarship.

I was never willing to go [to Rehab.] I told my Parents if they tried to put me in I'd leave and they'd never see me again. They believed me. (1.4.239)

This is one of many ways James has manipulated his parents. This was before rehab, but we'll see him continue doing it even from inside.

I stare at the floor and I wonder. How did they tolerate me. (1.5.246)

We're not sure how James's parents tolerate him, either. Before hanging up the phone, they say "we love you" (1.5.245), but he just hangs up. Nice, man. Real nice.

We were a Family, a happy Family, and we stayed that way until I stopped showing up. (1.8.271)

James seems to be taking responsibility for all the trouble he's caused his family, but does it matter if he feels guilty if he doesn't apologize to them for everything he's done? What would an apology mean to his family?

This is my Brother, my Blood, the only thing in this World created from that which I was created from, the Person in this World who knows me best, the Person who would miss me most if I was gone. (2.1.424)

We're glad that James realizes that his brother is probably the best friend he has. James actually <em>likes</em> his brother. So what's up with his hatred for his parents? Why does he feel so differently about them? Is it because they tried to control him? <em>Did </em>they try to control him? Do they represent something else for him? 

Cry.

Fight.

Mom.

Dad.

Brother.

Cry.

Fight.

Live. (2.2.362-2.2.369)

Is it significant that Mom, Dad, and Brother are between Cry and Fight? It seems James often fights a lot when Mom and Dad are present, and Mom and Dad do a lot of crying. Or is it the other way around? What do you make of these connections?

Your Parents are coming here. They've enrolled in the Family Program. (3.1.163)

It seems like a lot of people in rehab <em>want </em>their family members to come (Miles trying to get his wife to enroll, for example), but James actively tries to push his parents away. Is this because James only wants to get better on his own terms, with no help from anyone else? 

I look at the Job Board. The space next to my name reads Family. (3.2.29)

This is appropriate, considering that James finds even <em>talking</em> to his family to be a job worse than anything on <em>Dirty Jobs</em>.

Parents don't leave Children alone, James, they raise them. (3.3.334)

James seems to think that he should have been allowed to run independent from a young age; if only his parents had just butted out of his life, everything would have turned out okay. Do you think this is true, or is it just more selfish babble from James?

I would like you to be my Son. (4.2.177)

Leonard must have no idea what a crappy son James is, or he would never have told him this. Why does Leonard want to take on James as a foster son of sorts? Is it to pay forward what his adopted parents gave him? Does he think James needs a father?