Book Review | A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Wednesday, March 30, 2016



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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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. (GoodReads)

This book is really about Jude. Even after 800 pages, even after making everything revolve around Jude, I still don't know Jude.

A Little Life reminded me of a more harrowing version of The Interesting by Meg Wolitzer. Basically, this very character-driven book centers around a group of friends who are trying to make it through life. Yanagihara puts together the four most different, yet complimentary characters to Jude and it's obvious that each brings to Jude something with which he can hold on to. None of his relationships, however, compare to his relationship with Willem. 

This book was at times very hard to read. It is the sort of book that contains very explicit descriptions of very traumatizing and tragic events. The book provides no dates and the locations are at most vague. Although I've seen that this bothers many, I believe that it is a way for the author to convey with the setting what is the theme of the book: instability, hollowness, insufficiency. Even after I finished this book three weeks ago, it is very hard to talk about and describe. There are very little happy moments and after 800 pages I am still unsatisfied, not in a bad way, but rather in that I don't know what's going on with this book.

I gave this book five stars because the writing is beautiful, because the characters are so humanly raw, because I was so moved, and because my life changed a little because of this. However, I don't want to recommend this book to you because it's very hard to read and it has a sadness that I don't recommend to anyone. 

xo, Patricia

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