Book Review: My Friend Leonard

When I read James Frey’s first book A Million Little Pieces, I thought it was the most intense book I had read in a long time.  Frey’s second book – My Friend Leonard, which continues where the first book leaves off, is even more intense. 

This book starts at the bottom (like the first one does), starts to climb a little, and then turns you upside down and smashes your head into a concrete floor over and over again.  I started it in the Seattle airport last night on my way to Boston on the red eye – I figured I’d just get started and then put it down when I settled in on the plane to fall asleep.  Bad plan.  An hour into the flight, I finally gave it up and went to sleep.  I finished the book off after I woke up in Boston this morning.  The roller coaster ended – finally – on page 357.

Frey is incredible on numerous dimensions.  For starters, this dude is unbelievably stubborn.  It works against him for a while, but it ultimately works for him in major ways.  Next, he transitions from a devastating first 24 years of his life into a supremely articulate, yet rawly emotional, human.  While he struggles, is afraid of himself, hates his fear, and suffers, he never gives up, especially since he knows that giving up will mean death for him.

His friend Leonard is a major part of this.  Leonard has his own issues, but is an awesome friend when Frey keenly needed one.  Leonard is unapologetic, unyielding, and knows life is meant to be lived.  The interplay between Frey and Leonard is awesome, especially when you toss in Leonard’s bodyguard Snapper.

This book is brilliant.  Do NOT read it without reading A Million Little Pieces first.