We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

Reviews of My Friend Leonard by James Frey

My Friend Leonard

by James Frey

My Friend Leonard by James Frey X
My Friend Leonard by James Frey
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 368 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2006, 416 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Perhaps the most unconventional and literally breathtaking father-son story you'll ever read, My Friend Leonard pulls you immediately and deeply into a relationship as unusual as it is inspiring.
Before considering reading this book, please see the BookBrowse note on the book jacket/review page.

BookBrowse Note: January 9th 2006: An article in the Smoking Gun claimed that James Frey (author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard) fabricated key parts of his books.  They cited police records, court documents and interviews with law enforcement agents which belie a number of Frey's claims regarding criminal charges against him, jail terms and his fugitive status.

In an interview with the Smoking Gun, Frey admitted that he had 'embellished central details' in A Million Little Pieces and backtracked on claims he made in the book.

January 26th 2006. Frey's publisher stated that while it initially stood by him, after further questioning of the author, the house has "sadly come to the realization that a number of facts have been altered and incidents embellished." It will be adding a a publisher's note and author's note to all future editions of A Million Little Pieces.


Perhaps the most unconventional and literally breathtaking father-son story you'll ever read, My Friend Leonard pulls you immediately and deeply into a relationship as unusual as it is inspiring.

The father figure is Leonard, the high-living, recovering coke addict "West Coast Director of a large Italian-American finance firm" (read: mobster) who helped to keep James Frey clean in A Million Little Pieces. The son is, of course, James, damaged perhaps beyond repair by years of crack and alcohol addiction-and by more than a few cruel tricks of fate.

James embarks on his post-rehab existence in Chicago emotionally devastated, broke, and afraid to get close to other people. But then Leonard comes back into his life, and everything changes. Leonard offers his "son" lucrative—if illegal and slightly dangerous—employment. He teaches James to enjoy life, sober, for the first time. He instructs him in the art of "living boldly," pushes him to pursue his passion for writing, and provides a watchful and supportive veil of protection under which James can get his life together. Both Leonard's and James's careers flourish…but then Leonard vanishes. When the reasons behind his mysterious absence are revealed, the book opens up in unexpected emotional ways.

My Friend Leonard showcases a brilliant and energetic young writer rising to important new challenges—displaying surprising warmth, humor, and maturity—without losing his intensity. This book proves that one of the most provocative literary voices of his generation is also one of the most emphatically human.

On my first day in jail, a three hundred pound man named Porterhouse hit me in the back of the head with a metal tray. I was standing in line for lunch and I didn't see it coming. I went down. When I got up, I turned around and I started throwing punches. I landed two or three before I got hit again, this time in the face. I went down again. I wiped blood away from my nose and my mouth and I got up I started throwing punches again. Porterhouse put me in a headlock and started choking me. He leaned towards my ear and said I'm gonna let you go. If you keep fighting me I will fucking hurt you bad. Stay down and I will leave you alone. He let go of me, and I stayed down.

I have been here for sixty-seven days. I live in Men's Module B, which is for violent and felonious offenders. There are thirty-two cells in my module, thirty-two inmates. At any given time, ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Although My Friend Leonard has not come under the same detailed scrutiny as Frey's first book (see above), it has to be assumed that it too would be better described as a "novel based on a true story"...continued

Full Review (343 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Media Reviews

Elle
Frey's appeal lies in his ability to tell his down and dirty, hair-raising story in sparse, hypnotic prose--in this sense he's already a master stylist, of kind. No subject , no height or depth of human experience is too extreme for him to come around on with deadeye grace and force of his beautiful, sad, potent, irresistible prose.

Newsweek - Malcolm Jones
As smart as it is heartfelt, this tribute to friendship is a far sunnier book than Frey's debut.... Frey's cool, shrewd eye for detail ties it all together, whether he's describing the inside of a jail, a Super Bowl party, or the plaintive rootlessness of life in Los Angeles.

People
The engrossing story of a bizarre friendship between the author and a dangerous mobster.

Poets & Writers Magazine
Suffused with anger and regret, written by a man who has straddled the line between life and death and has taken his time figuring out which side he wants to jump to. He spares no gory details.

Booklist
Starred Review. A raw, often visceral, reading experience. With Frey's emotions so close to the surface, it's impossible not to care about Frey's struggles to reintegrate into society and prosper. Another powerful read from a talented, dynamic author.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A fine, grim tale full of smarting immediacy... small fortune could be made by bottling this story and selling it as an antidote to self-pity. Frey will have to settle for the small fortune it will make in big sales.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Frey achieves another stylistic coup... Frey's style throughout is loose, untraditional, but perfectly crafted... This book packs a full emotional wallop... Frey's extraordinary relationship with Leonard is alive, a flesh-and-blood bond.

Reader Reviews

Natasha

Honesty
This book allowed me to explore human emotion in a way that I had not experienced before and have not come across since. Throughout the entire story, I felt as if James Frey were speaking to me personally and that he understood the way I felt in all ...   Read More
NIKKICOLA

AWESOME
This book is amazing. I started reading it a while back, then I told my mom about it and then she started reading it before I had a chance to even finish it, So she finished it before I did and she said it was a great book. I am about done with it ...   Read More
Daniella

Nothing expected
You expect a great book coming from the James Frey, but not one that's got a situational irony at the end. what surprises me most is that everything is true and quite heartbreaking. This book is shocking, heartbreaking, and just as great as the ...   Read More
timmy

Nothing compares.
I just finished reading My Friend Leonard. I am absolutely speechless. I was in tears at the end of the book. Frey knows how to get to his reader. The book (and a million little pieces as well) is brutally honest and Frey can really, really write ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked My Friend Leonard, try these:

  • A Long Way Down jacket

    A Long Way Down

    by Nick Hornby

    Published 2006

    About this book

    More by this author

    Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

  • Controlled Burn jacket

    Controlled Burn

    by Scott Wolven

    Published 2005

    About this book

    Powered by a spare, ruminative prose style that recalls the best of Denis Johnson and Thom Jones, Controlled Burn is an unforgettable debut.

Read-Alikes are one of the many benefits of membership. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by James Frey
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Ascent
    The Ascent
    by Adam Plantinga
    Adam Plantinga's brilliant debut novel, The Ascent, introduces readers to former Detroit police ...
  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

  • Book Jacket

    Leaving
    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.