A LITTLE LIFE BY HANYA YANAGIHARA


PLOT SUMMARY:

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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.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


MY REVIEW:

I honestly don't know where to start with this book as I feel no words will do it justice and clearly portray how unbelievably sad and beautiful it is...

A Little Life is a book that will stay and haunt you for a long time. It should be noted that it is not for the faint hearted. The story is fuelled with sadness, loss, grief and touches on some incredibly heavy and uncomfortable topics like rape, suicide, self harming, abusive relationships, depression and more. I will be brutally honest and say that there were times I had to put the book down for a few days because it became a lot to take in and this never happens to me. Therefore, if you are sensitive to the topics mentioned or looking for a feel good book, this is not for you. This isn't me discouraging people from reading it as it is by far one of the best books I have ever read, I am just trying to manage expectations and be as honest as I can be.

A Little Life is the raw, real and heart breaking account of 4 friends navigating life in New York. Yanagihara does an amazing job at allowing us to get to know each of the characters on an extremely intimate level and become invested in their stories from the get go. I loved how Jude, Willem, JB and Malcolm all bring their own nuances and angles to what it is a breath takingly honest and tragic story. But of course, Jude is at the heart of this and is a hauntingly beautiful and troubled character that will leave his mark on every reader. His life and the things he has had to endure are beyond comprehension and mark the tone for the overall story. He is this enigmatically talented and troubled soul who struggles to find his place and happiness in the world. However, he finds himself surrounded by amazing friends who you grow to love as you read the story. Willem, Andy and Harold in particular are some of the best characters I have come across in a book. The strength, complexity and depth of the characters are what really make this story what it is. I don't know how Yanagihara did it but she managed to write a book centred around male characters and portray so many different male characters in the most amazing way. They felt like real people who I would love to have in my life.

My only pick is that the timeline was hard to follow sometimes. Chapters and even paragraphs sometimes jumped months or years and it made it hard to follow at times. Other than that, the writing is spectacular!

The whole story spans about 40 years, which makes it so unique as we witness so many life changing milestones for our 4 characters, especially Jude. From landing their first jobs, enduring their first break ups, losing and finding friends, we embark on a journey of epic proportions that will stay with you for a very long time.

I won't say much more, otherwise this review will never end but this is definitely one of the best and most impactful books I have ever read. I finished it 2 weeks ago and I still think about it. However, as I said, it is not for everyone and I would maybe read other reviews to ensure that you definitely want to read it.

Huge praise to Yanagihara, A Little Life is one of the greats and will stand the test of time.

IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:

Breath taking

Heart breaking

Sensational


FAVOURITE QUOTE:

'It was precisely these scenes he missed the most…the forgettable, in-between moments in which nothing seemed to be happening but whose absence was singularly unfillable.'

FAVOURITE CHARACTER:

This is honestly impossible to choose from - I have never come across a book where I have loved so many characters; Jude, Willem, Harold, Andy - too hard to choose, sorry!

OVERALL RATING:

10/10

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