A Little Life
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Genre/Themes: Fiction, Contemporary
Release Date: March 10th 2015
Page Count: 720
“…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.
I remember first hearing about A Little Life and instantly deciding that I needed to read it as soon as possible. I bought the book and there it sat in my TBR pile for months. I guess seeing its size in person just really intimidated me. That and the fact that I knew it was going to be a dark, depressing and draining read. It took a while for me to psych myself up and finally pick up this massive novel, but when I finally did, I began to question what took me so long. A Little Life may be intimidating, but it is worth reading every single page.
What I Liked
The characters. Not only were JB, Willem, Jude and Malcolm all diverse and unique from one another, but the thought process that went into these characters was immense. Each character was beautiful in their own way, with completely different character traits. This was extremely relatable, especially when I think of my group of university friends. We all got along so well and we all still see each other almost every weekend, but we’re all pretty different from one another. These characters were relatable for a vast number of reasons and for that I am grateful.
The relationships. Not only the romantic ones, but more importantly, the friendships. A Little Life is a very character driven story that explored the complex relationships between five male friends. Not only does this book explore the relationships between our four main characters, but it also explores their relationships with other people around them. Their partners, their family, their colleagues, this book explores them all.
That this book had no chill. There were very few happy moments, if you can even call them that. This book was dark and depressing from start to finish. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, we learn more about a character’s childhood and other moments from their dark past. While some of it may feel a little over the top, like all of these bad things couldn’t possibly happen to one person, I’m sure it’s more realistic than we might like to believe. When I say this book had no chill, I mean it. I have never felt so gray and heavy (if that even makes a little bit of sense) while reading a novel…ever.
What I Didn’t Like
Honestly nothing. I absolutely adored this book. While it was a little lengthy and deeply devastating, I think it was done for good reason. It added to the story and it made you really feel for these characters.
I’m definitely one to be intimidated by books that are as large as A Little Life is. I tend to stay away from them because I know they’ll take me forever to finish. For a book that was over 700 pages, I genuinely did not want it to end, even considering how dark it was. For a book that technically did take me a while to finish, it felt like I blew through it so fast! I highly recommend picking up A Little Life, but there is A LOT of triggering content relating to depression, self harm & suicide.
“Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?”
About The Author