Book Review: Katerina by James Frey

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Prompt: A book set in a country that fascinates you Brief synopsis: Jay doesn't want to do...

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Prompt: A book set in a country that fascinates you

Brief synopsis: Jay doesn't want to do the vote-work-die thing, so he leaves college and heads to Paris to write. There he does lots of drugs and drinking and falls in love, hard. Fast forward to Los Angeles twenty-five years later. He's a successful author, has a lovely wife and loving children. And out of the blue, he gets a message from the one he loved before, which sends him spiraling down memory lane and what could have been.

 I came to the James Frey show a little late - I only discovered A Million Little Pieces a couple years ago, after picking it up from a thrift store or yard sale and letting it sit on my shelf for quite a few years. After a recommendation for the "sequel," I immediately went out and bought My Friend Leonard as well, and have loved Frey's stories ever since. Though Pieces was originally marketed as a memoir, I do call his books stories for a reason. Since the giant controversy surround A Million Little Pieces and Oprah's Book Club, Frey's books have since been changed to a genre of memoir/fiction or just fiction. Regardless, his writing is fantastic, and I read books for entertainment, so I couldn't really care less if the story was fabricated or not. However, there is a realness to Frey's words that are obviously the truth.

Pieces is focused around Frey's six-week stint in rehab, and Leonard is a follow-up with one of the main characters from the first book. Katerina isn't marketed as being part of a series, and the main character's name is Jay instead of James, but these books all hold a bit of Frey's truth, and so in my mind, they're all tied together. Though Katerina is set in 1992/93 and 2017, the main part of the story is the 90s. I would place this book as a kind of prequel to A Million Little Pieces, however, it is entirely a standalone.

James Frey creates this weird inter-mixture of biographical information and fictional story and it's impossible to tell where that line meets. Katerina is very much written in the same style as Frey's other books - a stream-of-consciousness style that's not impossible to deal with, and actually adds to the story and how it's read.

My biggest complaint is the excessive sex scenes in the book. I'm no prude, but the sex seemed vulgar and didn't seem to add any value to the story. One or two would've been fine, but again - they seemed excessive and unnecessary.

I would say that Katerina is no A Million Little Pieces or My Friend Leonard, but it's certainly got that James Frey spark and I would definitely recommend it.

Katerina releases September 11, 2018.


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

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