2020 · books · glbt

Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Title: A Little Life

Author: Hanya Yanagihara 

Description: Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its readers.

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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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


Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book tore me into pieces, picked me up again just to finish me off one last time.

I remember watching @ paperbackdreams’ youtube video which was basically a reading vlog and she read this book. There were a lot of tears and even though I usually don’t read sad books, dumb past me immediately ordered this book.

You see, I knew this would be sad but I didn’t expect it to be so depressing and tragic. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the things that happened in this book. That’s why I advise you, if you are in a bad mood, or have triggering thoughts this book might not be the one for you. This personally was such a trigger for me and it brought back many memories from the past that I tried to forget. Still, even now after reading it, I’m left with a piece of my heart ripped away but I’m glad I read it because this book and this topic is extremely important.

I went into it not really knowing what it’s about so everything was quite a shocking experience for me, but basically it’s a book about 4 friends living in New York and about almost their whole life: there’s JB – a black gay artist, Malcolm – an architect unsure about his racial or sexual identity, or anything else in his life, Willem – a kind actor with a prosperous future and Jude – extremely smart lawyer with demons from his past haunting him. The main topic of this book is Jude and his life that only upon the book progressing starts unraveling into a very traumatic past.

I read this 700+ page book in a matter of 3 days and although I was trying to prepare myself for how it would end, spoiler alert, it was still very painful to read. This is the kind of book that, once you finish it, you will keep thinking about it for many more days, and you will still be hit with a plethora of feels. I personally didn’t cry because I cry maybe once a year, but it doesn’t mean that it didn’t make me extremely sad.

After reading this, my heart goes out for all of victims of sexual assault and it made me realize that there are things like this happening around us and we shouldn’t close our eyes on them and pretend like they don’t exist. I’m praying for all the victims and will definitely be learning more about this topic so that if I recognize those kinds of cases, I’ll be able to help.

This book made me both frustrated and sad because of how raw Jude’s character is written. I love how realistic all the characters were and I see why this book is so popular and why it won so many awards.

All in all, this was quite a bumpy ride but I’m glad I read it. I will not be picking up a sad book for a while because this kinds of topics put you in such a dark mood you just need a pick-me-up afterwards.

Did you read this book and what were your thoughts? Please let me know.

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13 thoughts on “Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

  1. I need to watch that reading vlog. I’ve seen this book making the rounds through booktube and wordpress, and I was intimidated not just by the list of trigger warnings but also the size. Your review is great; you manage to speak eloquently about the emotional impact of this book while giving away very little. Do you have any thoughts towards your pick-me-up book will be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your review is really great and you touched on some points that are absolutely true but didn’t even cross my mind. By reading the quotes you listed, I was immediately sucked into the story once again with so many flashbacks 🥺🥺

      Liked by 1 person

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