Read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Online


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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, bWhen four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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....

Title : A Little Life
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 25571957
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 734 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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A Little Life Reviews

  • Michael Flick
    2018-12-23 14:55

    Some believe that this is “The Great Gay Novel.” That couldn’t be more wrong. There are only two recognizable gay men in this work, JB and Caleb. A creative queen and a violent, probably psychopathic, sadist. All the other “possibilities” are pedophiles (categorically not gay—that’s a sickness, an evil, that has nothing to do with being gay) or so hopelessly confused (and impotent) that you can’t know what they are (JB and Willem). The take on gay men here is antediluvian—a dangerous and discredited brand of heteronormative delusion in which all gay men, no matter the glittering surface of their lives, are fated only to die a lonely, miserable death. Caleb dies an excruciating death (so we’re told) from pancreatic cancer. JB, the witty, flamboyant, unstable, creative queen is merely a plot point. His happiness, told but not shown, at the bitter end doesn’t mean anything more than that. He’s a device to wring one more regret from you, one more sorrow. You can be assured that he, too, will die an ignoble death just beyond this novel’s last page. And you won’t be troubled or offended or titillated by the gay sex (or really any sex) here because there isn’t any: it’s the sex that dare not speak its name. All this is because the author knows absolutely nothing about gay men other than the most superficial stereotypes and doesn’t have the imagination to venture deeper than that. She can’t even imagine that a man (Willem) doesn’t need a woman to quench his sexual needs—he has a solution readily at hand.Some people believe this is a novel about friendship. That also couldn’t be more wrong. The author warns you early on [225] that friendship is nothing but the slow drip of miseries. This book is not about friends, it is about enablers. All the main characters are there specifically to enable Jude, which is precisely what destroys him. Were they his friends, they would never have let things progress the way they did.Some people believe that a strength of this book is that the author's presence is not felt. This also couldn’t be more wrong. There is absolutely nothing here that is not the author’s presence. It is all tell and no show. The characters are cartoons. They can’t grow. They can’t surprise. All they can do is grind the meticulous plot forward. They are not here for any other purpose. They aren’t really characters at all, just cogs in a machine.Every novel demands, by necessity, some suspension of disbelief. But no novel can be unbelievable. But that’s all we’re told. Four adolescents are thrown together as suitemates at a highly prestigious Cambridge college (wink, wink) and we’re told, not shown, that they effortlessly go on to become the best, the most famous—trial lawyer, actor, artist, and architect. The actor and architect might squeak by as believable, but not the trial lawyer, not the artist. From what we’re told about the trial lawyer, it’s impossible to reconcile his catastrophic, constricted, precarious little life with the cold, predatory, expert were told he is. From what we’re told about the artist, it’s impossible to believe, even in New York City’s insular and provincial art world, that the same series of portraits from photographs of the same three men over and over and over again will raise him to the top of that art world. The artists, the real ones, the author cites are all mediocre; the one she tells surely must be likewise.Moreover, we’re told that that men, all men, have a permanent, genetic, stunted repertoire of emotion, have a tiny emotional toolbox. And that their character is fixed at some ill defined state in their past and beyond that no change can ever take place. Growth, change, redemption—all are denied. Thus, we don’t get characters, we get cartoons. Cardboard cutouts. They are here only to satisfy the deliberate plotting. They are only means to the author’s ends, nothing more.And to add to the unbelievability: the villains, puerile: the pedophiles—Catholic clergy, Dickensonian orphanage counselors, a homicidal psychiatrist, long-haul truckers, a vast nationwide network of solitary and group child predators; and, of course, the brutal, violent gay psychopath. Even granting evil is banal, this is beneath banal. Cartoon. Cardboard. What’s lacking here, and elsewhere, everywhere in this novel, is any imagination beyond just that: the banal; the puerile; the stereotype.Not to dwell on the unbelievable, but it permeates this book. Nonexistent syndromes. Nonexistent legal cases. Hyenas that climb trees. And over and over and over the doctor, Andy: he fails every duty of care, everything that physicians stand for, believe in, dedicate their lives to—he’s there only to enable. He doesn’t report what must be reported, not just legally but morally. And, of course, plot over believability, neither do any other of the medical professionals, doctors and nurses, a legion of them through whose care Jude passes. They all turn a blind eye to the evidence of his abuse, his self abuse. Andy neglects to mention the very real and virtually insoluble problem of phantom pain when he explains amputation to Jude, but then just that develops post-op, only to be brushed aside a few pages later. It doesn’t work that way. (And, really, it would have meshed perfectly with the author’s plot. Another failure of imagination?) And, fundamentally: physicians don’t treat their friends, their family. That’s a recipe for disaster. Unless disaster is precisely the aim.And I just can’t let it go: lunch at obviously Le Bernardin, Willem without a jacket. No way. No man dines there who is not wearing a jacket. And especially not an actor, no matter how famous. Here, I guess, the point where the author did let her imagination run wild.And I’d be remiss not to mention the language. Suited to its task. Occasionally it seems almost to take flight, but when it does, it seems more appropriate for a glossy travel magazine. And it almost always tries to take flight in just such a milieu: Bhutan, the Alhambra.Most people think that this 720 page novel is too long. Way too long. But imagine what it would be were it the size of most all contemporary novels, 250-350 pages, more or less. Half or less what it is now. What would it be? Even more obviously the ridiculous cartoon that it is. The length is intrinsic to this work. It is long, patiently and meticulously plotted. The very length is part and parcel of its purpose. The reader made to suffer, one with the gears of the plot. That’s the whole point.The leitmotif is sorrow. Everyone is always saying “I’m sorry.” Over and over and over and over again. Of course, thus sorrow loses all meaning, becomes trite. But meanwhile the author is carefully and meticulously adhering to the through line, everyone will suffer, every character, the reader. It’s nothing but melodramatic manipulation.So what is this after I’ve rambled on about what it isn’t? I think it’s a masterpiece of a new kind, joining closely related genres such as mommy porn and the venerable bodice rippers: this is authorial sadism. The author is a “literary” (if you can dignify her as such) dominatrix. Every character set up to fail, no possibility of redemption, growth. And the person who suffers the most in the end is the reader. Set up to be crushed. Again: that’s the whole point.All of us are the stories we tell. No less the novelist.If you read this book and found it amazing, I’m sorry.If you haven’t read this book, don’t.

  • Glenn Sumi
    2019-01-05 07:41

    5 THINGS I LIKED ABOUT A LITTLE LIFE(AND 5 THINGS I DIDN'T)Everyone’s talking about Hanya Yanagihara’s Booker- and National Book Award-nominated blockbuster novel. There are lots of 5 star raves on this site. Many people are saying it’s one of the most incredible books they’ve ever read. I hate to be the outlier or considered cold-hearted (I’m not! I cry over books and movies ALL THE TIME!!!). The book took me just under 2 weeks to finish, and I’m glad I read it. I liked it, I really liked it! But I also didn’t. Here’s why.THINGS I LIKED1. The power of friendshipIf this book had a theme song it might be the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Four roommates at an Eastern college move to the Big Apple and become huge successes: J.B. becomes a hip downtown artist; the well-off Malcolm is a well-known architect; Willem goes from waiter to movie star practically overnight; Jude is a lawyer, first at the D.A.’s office and then at a prestigious corporate firm, where he works himself up and becomes a partner.Over the decades, their friendship endures, through spats, early career struggles, J.B.’s drug addiction and, most of all, dealing with the effects of Jude’s unspeakably abusive past on his current life, although Jude is terrified to tell anyone about that abuse. The novel is also refreshing in its depiction of race, gender and sexual orientation. 2. The depiction of the effects of abuseMy one major takeaway from this book is a fuller understanding of the after-effects of systemic childhood abuse. Jude, an orphan raised at a monastery, the first site of his sadistic stations of the cross, feels absolutely worthless. He cuts himself (if you’re squeamish, you’ve been warned). He bangs himself against walls. In one particularly harrowing scene, he sets himself on fire. Beyond that, he can’t trust anyone and doesn’t feel he’s worthy of love, even though as an adult he gets nothing BUT unconditional love (with one notable exception). For the people who adore him (not just J.B., Malcolm and Willem but Harold, his former law professor, who, with his wife Julia, adopt Jude at age 30, and Andy, the most supportive physician on the planet), this is beyond frustrating. A good one-third to one-half of the book recounts all of that.3. The way Jude’s brutal past is layered into the storyYanagihara expertly weaves the story of Jude’s abusive past into his present-day narrative. And in the character of Brother Luke (especially), she understands how abusers manipulate.4. J.B.’s art The descriptions of J.B.’s art projects, from his early, experimental pieces as a student – one involves collecting people’s real hair – to the shows that get him attention and fame, all feel authentic. My only question would be the scope and range of his work. The subjects of his art all seem to be his friends. Really? He has no other interests? Or is this merely a comment on #1 (above)? [Side note: the cover photo for the North American edition is brutally powerful: it’s called Orgasmic Man, and captures the feeling of ecstatic turmoil vividly.]5. The proseObviously a book has to be decent to keep you absorbed for over 700 pages. Yanagihara knows how to string you along. Jude has problems walking – he’s vague in his description about how this happened – and once she plants the idea of Jude’s abuse, she makes you wonder what EXACTLY happened to him. And as with any coming-of-age book, you want to know where they end up. THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE (PLEASE DON’T HATE ME!)1. The total lack of historical contextCharacters use the internet and cellphones, but no world events occur. The only things that register are the friends’ cultural milestones: JB’s retrospective, Willem’s movies (which, incidentally, all have horrible, unlikely titles), Malcolm’s buildings, Jude’s cases. There’s something incredibly narcissistic about this. Seriously? Nothing on 9/11? The economic downturn didn’t affect Malcolm’s Upper East Side family? J.B. is of Haitian background; were any relatives affected by the earthquake? No one – not one friend, colleague, etc. – is dealing with HIV? (We’re told Jude’s body is riddled with disease, but never get the details.)2. The implausibilityNot only is Jude a top-notch litigator, but he’s also a brilliant mathematician. AND an excellent pianist. AND a singer of lieder. During school (full scholarship), he has a job at a bakery (oh, he’s also an amazing baker). So… when - and HOW - did he learn how to play piano and study German art songs? Seriously. I want to know. What bothers me is the assumption beneath all of this. Does he have to be so good at all of these things for people to love him? If someone has been abused and ISN’T as accomplished, isn’t this person just as worthy of love and understanding? For that matter, WHY do people love Jude? I don’t get it. All he seems to be doing for the entire book is saying, “I’m sorry.” Which brings me to...Why are these guys all friends, again? Cuz they went to the same school? We don’t get enough about their early years to know what solidifies their friendship. Yanagihara just TELLS us they are friends, and we have to accept it. For 700 pages. Which brings me to…3. The RepetitionThe book needed more serious editing. It could have lost 250 pages easily. About ⅓ of the way in, I thought, somewhat heartlessly (I know, I know), “Imagine taking a drink every time Jude says ‘I’m sorry.’” I’d love to search how many times that phrase pops up, as well as the word “shame.” Just saying. We get it, Hanya.4. Lifestyle pornNot only do all four friends become enormous successes in their fields, but they’re constantly jetting off to exotic places (Paris for the weekend? Why not?!), buying up lofts (stylish and trendy downtown, of course, NEVER uptown) and having Malcolm decorate them in the best Architectural Digest taste. And then there’s the cultural snobbery. I howled when Willem was going to film Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and ALL OF HIS FRIENDS KNEW THE CHARACTERS FROM THE PLAY. I’ve seen Vanya several times, and even I don’t know all the characters in the play. 5. Black and white charactersI’m not talking about race, here. I’m talking about people who are either ALL GOOD or ALL BAD. We’re all somewhere in the middle, but not in Yanigihara’s universe. Which made me think that the book needs to be read as a fable, an urban fairy tale, not realism. Is that why there are no historic markers? Because this is some Dickensian book set in chic SoHo? I don’t know. But if these people who we spend so much time with had more shading, I’d probably have liked – and BELIEVED – it a lot more. ***Final thoughts: obviously Yanagihara has tapped into something serious and profound with this book. I think people are responding to it because in some way we all feel damaged, used, unloved – although not to the extent that Jude does. Most of us learn to overcome our insecurities and move on. He's that terrified child we all carry around inside ourselves, saying we're no good, we're not attractive, we're not worthy of love. I just wish all this had been done with a bit more subtlety. Life isn't so black and white. Yanagihara should know that, as we get older, we learn to accept, and live with, fascinating shades of grey. And that if she had brought out those complex greys, the book would feel more authentic and less sentimental.

  • Emily May
    2018-12-17 16:04

    A Little Life is a strong contender for the award for the most depressing book I've ever read. I swear I'm not even exaggerating.At this point, I'm not certain whether this is a positive or negative review. There's no doubt that this book is beautifully-written and contains some of the most raw and honest prose I've ever had the pleasure or misfortune of reading, but it's a long very long character study - over 700 pages of misery, substance abuse, self-harm, sexual and psychological abuse (and its aftermath), with very little of that "light" promised in the blurb.There's a section of this book called "The Happy Years" and never has a title been more misleading, if you ask me. But let me give you some idea what this book is about first. It starts with four young friends moving to New York - poor and uncertain of themselves - and trying to make their way. The characterization of JB, Malcolm, Willem and Jude is, to put it plainly, marvelous. They are such complex, well-crafted individuals with their own passions, hopes and fears.While the book details the lives of all four of them, Jude finds himself at the centre of this story, influencing the lives of his three friends. The more you read of A Little Life, the more you realize that it is really a novel about Jude, and the other three characters - though important - are secondary to the story of Jude's journey from a childhood full of sexual abuse to an unhappy adulthood.Those promised "The Happy Years" are some of the most heartbreaking chapters I've ever read. I read another review where the person said she had to put the book down because this part of the book was too close and personal. To quote the reviewer:I feel like someone shoved their hand in my torso and started stroking my organs while a therapist sits there observing and then asks me, "now, how does that make you feel?"I know what she means. It's brutally, painfully honest. It makes you feel like you're witnessing something you shouldn't be in the relationship between Willem and Jude. And, by the way, it is one of the most interesting, strange and truly depressing relationships I've ever encountered. The fear Jude feels that this relationship will be pulled apart by his own problems is palpable, and the lengths he goes to in order to conceal his issues made me so sad for him.But I can foresee the future onslaught of negative reviews that call this book "torture porn". It is so helplessly bleak. Everything bad that can possibly happen to Jude seems to happen and even when he finds someone to love him in his "happy years", that too is tainted by his past.Also, I find that very few books actually need to have this many pages. Almost all books over 600 pages seem too long to me, with many scenes feeling like they weren't needed and should be cut out. While I appreciated the depth of the character development, I'm certain that at least 100 pages of this book could have been shed without losing any emotional punch. Some of the character development felt dragged out way too long; one instance that comes to mind is the descriptions of JB's art - from his time building models out of hair, to his paintings - I feel like my understanding of JB and his relationship with art could have been achieved in far fewer pages.This is one of those books that brings a whole lot of genius to the table but very little real enjoyment. It's long, slow in parts, and very VERY depressing. But if you are not put off by the length and the dark subject matter, I would say it's the kind of book that needs to be read. It's the kind of book people will talk about and it's the kind of book that has you saying "this is the most ________ book/relationship/characterization I have ever read".And that really is kind of amazing.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  • Maxwell
    2019-01-01 14:59

    I can't, with a clear conscience, give this book anything less than 5 stars. It's a book that kept me reading long into the night, made me turn each page with vigor and curiosity, gave me chills and shivers over the joys and sorrows of each character, and ultimately left me feeling a bit older and tortured and yet at peace with the deeply complicated nature of humanity. What Hanya Yanagihara does with A Little Life is nothing nearly as pretentious as that paragraph above. Somehow in 720 pages, she manages to adequately--better yet, excellently--show and make the reader experiences the lives of these young men. The novel follows four boys who meet at college: Malcolm, JB, Willem, and the central and mysterious figure, Jude. It's truly Jude's tale, but Yanagihara ends up telling each and every one of the boys' stories with ease and genuineness that makes them real. Her prose is clean and honest and revealing of the many emotions that humans experience. It's never explicitly beautiful, not flowery or overwrought with adjectives or descriptors. But it has its own beauty that comes from its ability to convey these feelings, making you feel every pain or happiness that Malcolm and JB and Willem and Jude feel. It's some of the best prose I've read in a while (or ever read), and I wanted it to keep going on forever.There's so much more I could say about this book. About how it hurt me to read at times--because yes, there is very graphic material (i.e. self-harm, physical, sexual and psychological abuse, drug use) that makes the reading cringeworthy in parts--about how I fell in love with so many wonderful people in this story, about how I learned empathy and sorrow and frustration and anger for and with each of them, and how if I were to write a book I would want it to have the essence of this one. The truth is, though, I can't recommend this book to people, not without knowing them very well. Because it's a difficult journey that I can't suggest everyone take. Don't take this book lightly. But if you do choose to read it, if you choose to flip to that first page, be prepared for something inexplicable and jarring, but resilient and beautiful and ultimately worthwhile.

  • Jessica Woodbury
    2019-01-04 10:56

    It may sound presumptuous to say in January that I've read the best book I've read all year, but reading is a lot like love. Sometimes you just know.A LITTLE LIFE is a title with 3 meanings. First, it refers to its protagonist, Jude, a man who cannot ever accept that his life is worthwhile. Second, it refers to the act of reading it, spending time in this book is really like living a version of life.There is a third meaning, one that you don't discover until around halfway through the book when the title's words are used in a context that is like a punch to the gut. When you read them you may find yourself having a physical reaction, your stomach may flip, your skin may go cold, you may gasp for breath. And that is a lot of what the experience of reading this book is like. You can call these parts of the book words like "awful," but to be real you'd need to pull out your thesaurus and just line them up one after the other. This is not a book that is easy for your emotions. You care about the people in it, so the pain can really hurt you.You will hear that this is a book about 4 friends. It's not. They're a nice framing device, but this is a book about one person and the people who are connected to him. His life is made up of extremes. I found myself weeping over and over again because of the love and compassion and kindness that characters in the book displayed. But this book has some of the most harrowing and horrifying scenes I've read anywhere. It is not really spoiling anything to say this involves terrible things happening to a child. Everyone knows from the very beginning that something bad happened to Jude when he was young. It's just so much worse than you could imagine. (If you have trouble reading about child abuse, it's probably best you not read this book. While it's essential to the story, it is not glossed over or referenced vaguely and what is described is truly terrible to contemplate.)Jude is not a new character. The damaged soul whose self-worth never really recovers is present in a lot of modern fiction. Yanagihara's trick, I think, is just how willing she is to plumb the depths of his darkness and its effects on those around him. She follows him for decades, observes him in all situations, and is unflinching in her depictions. Her writing is the kind of good that you can miss if you're not paying attention. You are so caught up in her story that it's easy to miss just how agile and careful the book is. It eases back and forth from character to character, backwards and forwards in time, and it never feels strained.I stayed up for hours to finish this book and then couldn't sleep because I couldn't let it go. I was overcome by the book and by the loss of finishing it. This is a book about love and what it means and what it can do and it is the humanity of its characters and their love for each other that will stick with me.If it was presumptuous to say this is my favorite book of 2015 since it tries to predict the future, I do feel that I can dig through the past and assert with certainty that this is one of the best books I've ever read.

  • Thomas
    2019-01-11 12:00

    I slept with this book after I read it. I kid you not: I held its bulking, hardcover bound 700 pages in my arms as I fell asleep amid a raging storm. I refused to let A Little Life leave me. Its brilliant writing, its broken characters, and its bleak, unforgiving story dug into my heart, into the very pores of my skin. As a twenty-year-old, I felt both so young and so old upon finishing this novel, as if its sheer humanity aged my soul while making me appreciate all the years I still have left.A Little Life follows four friends after they graduate from a small, prestigious Massachusetts college: Willem, a kind and talented actor; JB, a sharp and sometimes-caustic artist, Malcolm, an aspiring architect at a well-known firm; and Jude, a mysterious and intelligent litigator. What looks like an average bildungsroman turns into an intense and tragic tale when we learn about enigmatic Jude's backstory. Abandoned at a monastery at birth, he endured a childhood of severe physical and emotional abuse, followed by several years of sexual abuse, forced prostitution, and psychological trauma. The book soon hones in on Jude's struggle to free himself from the demons of his past, the hyenas that howl and drown out the voices of his closest, most beloved friends.This book is relentlessly sad and exquisitely written. Hanya Yanagihara spares us no mercy when revealing Jude's trauma. She details both his past abuse and his present self-harm with explicit specificity, her diction so precise and piercing it made me shake, and at times, sob. Yanagihara writes both Jude's suffering and his friendships with a keen eye. She captures the nuances of human emotion, physical space, and change over time with eloquence and heart. She writes about some of the most wretched, abominable acts of cruelty I have ever read without sentimentalizing any of the abuse or making any of the characters' feelings mawkish.Yanagihara offers us temporary respite from the pain within Jude's past by showing us the power of friendship. A Little Life's most affective moments come not from its graphic depictions of violence, but from its quiet, uplifting portrayals of compassion. While the many abusive men in Jude's earlier life show us the depth of human atrocity, Jude's tender, bittersweet relationships with Willem, Harold, Andy, and others offer to us mankind's capacity for kindness. All of these complex characters make mistakes, and through their imperfections shines their humanness.Please keep in mind: A Little Life is ruthlessly depressing. In the end, Jude really receives no reprieve from his anguish. As someone who has suffered his own abuse - a version less intense than Jude's, yet still real - and as someone who reads a lot about abuse, I appreciated Yanagihara's dedication to showing the darker side of reality. Trauma is trauma is trauma. And while we can all fight for recovery, sometimes that absolvement may never come. Sometimes, we just have to act with whatever kindness we have left and hope that it brings even a moment of light into the dark.Highly recommended to anyone who wants their heart both filled and destroyed. Set aside some quality time for A Little Life. It will consume you.

  • Roxane
    2018-12-19 11:03

    Brilliant, devastating, heartbreaking. Fucking hatefully sad at times. There are places that are overwrought and overwritten but this is an amazing, engrossing novel. Just wow.

  • Estelle
    2019-01-09 08:44

    Brace yourself for the most melodramatic, pretentious, dull, dumb, overwritten, repetitive, laughable, cringe-inducing, self-indulgent, unbelievable, stereotypical, voyeuristic, contrived piece of fiction. After pushing through and trying to motivate myself to finish this book just to see if there's more to it or some kind of message there... I'm putting this book down for good. 90% in. Normally, I would have kept going just to find out what happens to the characters, but honestly I care so little about any of them, they can all die or live, they just remain empty caricatures to me and I have better things to read.At least it was so over the top it gave me a good laugh every now and then.

  • Alexander Patino
    2018-12-22 10:10

    You get a first read only once. I don't know what to say. It's the book of my life. Not that it mirrors my life, but that it's the literary love of my life. I know I get hyperbolic about this kind of stuff, but it is what it is. The most cathartic reading experience I've ever had. I'm shaking and crying writing this. How to move on after this one - hard to imagine I will.

  • Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
    2019-01-15 10:04

    Note: I received an ebook copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.Around page 150 of Hanya Yanagihara’s second novel, A Little Life, which follows four friends from their college years into their fifties, I wrote the following in my notes:I am more excited about Hanya Yanagihara and her work and her career than I have been about any author in a really long time.Around page 200 I wrote this:Is Jude’s suffering perhaps a tad overwrought? It is starting to seem like everything bad happens to him forever. Maybe we should spend some time with one of the other characters.Page 200 Jenny was right, and Page 150 Jenny was — well, hope springs eternal, and maybe Yanagihara’s third book will be back up to the standard of The People in the Trees. But as for A Little Life, describing Jude’s suffering as “a tad overwrought” is like describing Dolores Umbridge as “a tad unpleasant.” Yanagihara employs a plot strategy of which I was very fond when I was eleven, which was to think of as many dreadful fates as I could and heap them upon my protagonist one after another. Then when I ran out of ideas, I killed the protagonist off and wrote heartrending scenes of her friends-and-relations mourning her wretched life and too-early passing. I did this because I was eleven. I am not sure what Yanagihara’s problem is.We learn early on that Jude is physically frail, due to an unspecified injury in his past, and that his family isn’t in the picture. Over the course of seven hundred pages, Yanagihara unfolds a cartoonishly woeful backstory to explain all of this. When you first start to recognize the way Jude’s abusive past is tearing him apart in the present, it’s heartbreaking. After two or three wicked villains have gotten through abusing him just because they’re evil, you start worrying that if the author doesn’t right the ship, you’re going to find yourself in the unenviable position of describing a depiction of child sex abuse as silly in your eventual review.The maddening waste is that Yanagihara’s writing is elegant and evocative, and she’s able — at times — to capture with precision and delicacy the true, messy emotions between her characters. And the kind of story that she’s (I think) trying to tell is a kind of story I want to see more of. I want a story that doesn’t pretend there’s a straight path out of trauma into healing that you travel once and then you reach the end and you and your trauma have no further business to transact. I want a story that places serious value on relationships other than romantic ones. I want a story about loving someone who cannot always see his way clear to continuing to live in this world.Ideally, of course, these stories would reach me unencumbered by several metric tons of lunatic melodrama, and I would not have to use the word dreck in reference to an author I admire. But in this I am evidently destined for disappointment.

  • Victoria Schwab
    2019-01-10 09:00

    Jesus Christ. I cried for an HOUR last night. This freaking book.

  • Mischenko
    2018-12-22 15:58

    Please visit my blog to see this review and others. I decided to spend some of my weekend, which turned out to be all day today, catching up on some reading. I started A Little Life sometime in January, but had to put it down a few times due to time restrictions on other books. Plus, this book is colossal. It's a smidge over 700 pages. I'll start by saying that I can't recollect the last time I felt so connected to characters in a story. I was so consumed with the four main characters seeing as how it's nearly impossible not to fall in love with them, especially Jude and Willem. ♡ They're so complex, it feels like you're living the story and you're associating with all of them. I cried a few times, and laughed a few times. The further I read, the more shocked I became, ending with a feeling of devastation. With that said, I thought it was written well and it kept my interest. There were a few times I put it down and walked away, but I had to come back. I remember the first time I saw "Million Dollar Baby" with Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman. I was sick about that movie for more than a day. In fact, the next day I still felt depressed. Well, that's exactly how I'm feeling right now. Don't get me wrong, I loved this book, but it's going to take me a few days to get over it and I'll never forget it. 5*****

  • Ashley
    2018-12-27 15:53

    Fuck this book.And it started out so well! The writing is actually gorgeous. I can see why many, many people like this book. Really, Hanya Yanagihara knows how to use language. Unfortunately, the story she told was not worthy of it. The longer I read this book, the more I dreaded reading it, the worse my feelings got as I read, and the more I hated it for existing. Then I read a bunch of interviews by her and hated the book even more.The long and short of it is that this book is nothing but misery porn, on purpose. (Here's a Vulture interview where she talks about the inspiration for writing the book to create a book version of ombré cloth, which if you're not familiar, by the time you get to the end is pitch black. Yeah, let's make art that will stain our souls!!!!!)This book.Nothing in life is positive, there is only human suffering, true connection is impossible, predators will always find and ruin truly good people, everything is evil, the people who love you are not enough to save you, and your happiness will turn to ashes in your mouth. The End.Fuck. This. Book.There is a lot more that I could say about this book but I don't think I have enough time or space. Other people have criticized more articulately the implications of the way Yanagihara treats her gay characters, who exist seemingly only to suffer (while paradoxically others have praised it as the great gay novel). She also stated in several other interviews her desire to write a character so broken he couldn't be fixed, which she accomplishes in her protagonist Jude. Some have called this a melodrama, and that seems accurate. Everything is over the top, but stated in such bald and beautiful prose that it doesn't feel that way at the time. Instead, these larger than life events are made to seem trite and commonplace. Yes, there are bad priests in the Catholic church. Yes, the church covered this up. Do I think it's likely that an entire abbey full of Franciscans (the most peaceable and loving sect in Catholicism) would not only participate in child molestation, but condone it almost openly? Hell no.The real deal breaker for me was when I paused midway through the novel to read an interview where Yanagihara stated her criticism of psychiatry as a way to treat mental illness. The implication that some people are too broken to help and we should just let them die is so, so harmful, and in no way does it help to eradicate the stigma against mental illness in this country. We should not be telling "broken" people it's okay to die. We should be telling them they are not alone in their suffering, and help them find ways to cope with their illnesses and traumas. I will admit I checked out of the book then, and it was only a matter of time before I gave up and spoiled myself on the rest of it, so I wouldn't have to torture myself mentally any further.Glad I did, because the end of this book is a big rusty nail up the butt.This one from the London Review of Books is my favorite review of the book I've read so far. Let me quote my favorite part:"He wishes he too could forget, that he too could choose never to consider Caleb again. Always, he wonders why and how he has let four months – four months increasingly distant from him – so affect him, so alter his life. But then, he might as well ask – as he often does – why he has let the first 15 years of his life so dictate the past 28."The answer, of course, is that it’s Yanagihara’s design. That’s why it’s good to know that Jude is entirely her concoction, not a figure based on testimony by survivors of child rape, clinical case studies or anything empirical. I found Jude an infuriating object of attention, but resisted blaming the victim. I blame the author.A Little Life has received some ecstatic reviews. The most intriguing of these is the novelist Garth Greenwell’s in the Atlantic, which argues that it’s the long-awaited ‘great gay novel’: ‘It engages with aesthetic modes long coded as queer: melodrama, sentimental fiction, grand opera,’ he writes. ‘By violating the canons of current literary taste, by embracing melodrama and exaggeration and sentiment, it can access emotional truths denied more modest means of expression.’ Perhaps I’m in thrall to current literary taste, but the only character in A Little Life who seems possessed of anything like ‘emotional truths’ or a sense of irony, the only supporting player in this elaborately ethnically diverse cast who doesn’t seem like a stereotypical middle-class striver plucked out of 1950s cinema, is JB. He’s temporarily ushered out of the narrative after he says to Jude: ‘You like always being the person who gets to learn everyone else’s secrets, without ever telling us a single fucking thing? … Well, it doesn’t fucking work like that, and we’re all fucking sick of you.’ JB’s also the one hooked on crystal meth. What real person trapped in this novel wouldn’t become a drug addict?I think what makes the most angry about this book is that I do see flashes of brilliance in it. Images I loved, earned emotions. Early on in the novel, one character muses about being a guest in his own life. Another talks about photography in terms that made me stop in my tracks and pause the audiobook just so I think about what she'd written. Later, the relationship between Jude and his adoptive father and the love his adoptive father has for him made me cry. But all of that doesn't matter, when the end result is what we're given.What it comes down to the fact that pain was the only point, and I think that is reprehensible.

  • Nick Pageant
    2018-12-30 11:47

    A Little Life is a powerful, disturbing novel. It's full of pain, desperation, and a sense of isolating sadness that sucks the reader into some very dark places. It's also the best book I've read in years.Reading the blurb, you'll get the idea that this work is about 4 college friends and their lives, but that's not entirely true. While each of the 4 main characters, and in fact all the characters in the book, are fully realized with extraordinary character development, the book is really about just one man, Jude St. Francis.Jude is a truly broken person; he's been broken by a childhood that is both a series of horrors that are difficult to read about and a testament to what a human being can endure. Jude doesn't come out of his childhood whole and I feel a little broken by having read about his life. I also feel that strange happiness that comes from being emotionally purged in the way that only great books can accomplish.As Alona mentioned in her review, this is not a romance, but it is a love story. It's a love story about friendship that tries to overcome pain, and the bravery and sacrifice that true friendship and love sometimes require. The romance in this book is a beautiful one, but not in the traditional sense that a reader might expect or want for the characters involved.We all often say that we loved this character or that character in one of the many books that we read, I know I say it often, but the character of Jude St. Francis is something special. I loved Jude more than I've loved any character before; that's probably why he was capable of so thoroughly breaking my heart. I wanted so much for him, I wanted him to be so much and get so much in life. He didn't get all that I wanted for him, but in the end, I was satisfied with where he ended up and it seemed fitting and very real.I hate the term "triggers", but it's appropriate here. I have a few triggers of my own and they were part of this book, but I felt the writing here just brought me into those places that I don't like to go and left me, not upset or feeling traumatized, but more appreciative of my own ability to survive and thrive. I wanted to reach into the book and take Jude's hand and tell him we'd get through it together. This book is definitely not for everyone, but if you're up to it, you'll be thrilled by the writing. There's pain here, and beauty along with it.Big thanks to Alona for the many messages we exchanged while reading this. It sounds silly, but I feel as if the two of us have survived something together.

  • Kai
    2018-12-31 13:07

    “Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?”Two months. Books usually don't take me this long to be read. Even long books don't. So what's the reason I was stuck with this book for so long?Let's see. The never ending suffering and pain. The exaggerated and gross cruelty. The sadistic hopelessness. That's why.I had such high expectations. And it would have been so easy to meet them. All I longed for while reading this book - and talking myself into picking it up and finishing it - was for the main character to find hope. Not happiness, I cancelled out that option pretty quickly, but the hope that happiness might be an option. Spoiler: He never found it.Now, we all know and love that kind of book, those epic and dramatic novels we read, cause they'll sweep us away and make us weep, make our heart ache. And we love those books cause we know they will mend our broken hearts again. We will suffer, but we're going to be happy about it.I expected to cry and weep a lot with this book. I had tears in my eyes, yes, but those were tears of desperation and hatred. Hanya Yanagihara abuses the main character maliciously, mistreats our feelings, and shows us how ugly and hurtful a single life can be.I'm not sure what people mean when they say this was a beautiful book. Possibly the prose? The setting? Sure as hell not Jude's story right? Sure as hell, not the fact that - spoiler - he literally gets fucked and crippled by countless disgusting and evil men, who make him believe that he is a worthless, ugly, non-deserving piece of trash for his entire life, so that he finally kills himself STILL convinced he is worthless, ugly and non-deserving.What kind of book is this. How far does an author have to go? Why does an author have to get so disgustingly graphic, so horrific?Yes, I admit, there were nice parts. Yes, I enjoyed the writing. Yes I loved the travels and the infinitely rich lifestyle everyone seemed to live, but which also made this book even less credible. Yes, of course, I celebrated Jude's achievements, friendships, his lucky moments. But all his lucky moments, all the love he deserved, all the friends he had, had to be taken from him. And this shattered my awe for and good opinion of this novel.Do you want big feelings and epic life stories? Go and grab The Fault in Our Stars. Read The Help. Read Twilight for all I know. But don't read this.Find more of my books on Instagram

  • Clau R.
    2019-01-12 12:53

    4.5 starsEDIT: Nevermind, 5 stars.

  • Andrew Smith
    2019-01-09 07:53

    Heed my warning: do not pick this book up if you're having a bad day! On the other hand, if you're in a good space and fancy something challenging and absorbing that might take over your life for a while (it's over 700 pages long) - this is the one. There are many excellent reviews out there should you wish to delve into the micro details of the plot. But it's not my style to give so much away so I'll limit myself to a few lines on this. Ostensibly it's the tale of four students (Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB) who live and study together and it tracks how their lives develop from this point. Of course it draws in additional characters, many of whom continue to feature throughout the book, and it eventually settles into a narrative about the life of Jude, specifically, with the others becoming support characters.Jude, it transpires, had a profoundly disturbing childhood and his full history is told in segments spread throughout the book. The flashback sections read like a gothic horror story and it's no overstatement to say that I had to put the book down on numerous occasions, overcome by the sheer brutality of the text.So this is one element of the book: how does someone like Jude, who has experienced such an upbringing, integrate themself into the wider world? Can he succeed and prosper or will he be overcome by nightmares of the past and subsequently crash and burn? A second, and for me more prominent, theme of the book is related to adult friendship and love. In fact I'd go as far as to say it could be considered a friendship bible and you may find yourself weighing your own actions against those detailed herein – I for one found myself hugely wanting in this regard.( I give myself three out of ten.) It really did make me think about how I ‘manage’ (or fail to) my relationships, the little things and the bigger things. There are some wonderful sections on this: The only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people better than you are – not smarter, not cooler, but kinder and more generous, and more forgiving – and then appreciate them for what they can teach you, and try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad – or good - it might be, and then to trust them, which is the hardest of all. But the best, as well. It was like any relationship, he felt – it took constant pruning, and dedication and vigilance, and if neither party wanted to make the effort, why wouldn't it wither?Wasn't friendship it's own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem a little less lonely? There’s also a brilliant piece about finding a partner, with a theory espoused that you should identify three qualities from a wish list that are most important to you. If these are fulfilled by the prospective partner to be then you've struck gold! It’s too much to ask for any more than the three qualities to be ticked off, so you shouldn't demand it or expect it. I found myself trying to work out which I'd choose and which I'd discard. And how would I prioritise those I'd chosen for my shortlist? Too cold to be truly effective? Maybe…If I have one quibble it would relate to how forgiving and how persistent Jude’s friends are. Are they too good to be true? In aggregate, do Jude's actions feel deserving of such treatment? I'm not sure. But that's small beer when I consider the wealth of emotions I experienced in reading this book; the pure reward of reading probably one of the top five books I've ever read. I won't say I'd read it again - it's just too draining – but I would urge all lovers of the written word to find time for this one.

  • Angela M
    2018-12-24 16:03

    I read because I want a story to take me somewhere to experience a place I don't know . Not necessarily another city or country or continent a but a place in my heart and soul that I didn't know was there. This is where A Little Life took me . It consumed me for these last few days as I read late at night and then woke up thinking about Jude St. Francis . The book description will tell you that this is about the decades long friendships of four men who meet in college , about the careers they choose and the people they become , the lives they choose to lead. But it is mostly about the traumas of one man's childhood and how his capacity to live and love and be loved is altered for the rest of his life .This is one of those books where the narrative is so painful at times that I had to stop for a while , but I had to hurry up and start again because I couldn't stand not knowing what was going to happen . The writing is incredible . The depth of this author's perception about her characters and how she skillfully bares their souls , especially Jude is so far beyond the ordinary. The telling was so powerful and so painful and so unbearably sad yet somehow the emotional exhaustion was worth it .Hanna Yanagihara's characters show us that to be human is our connections with each other - mothers , fathers , brothers , friends , people who care about each other. I will be surprised if this isn't my favorite of the year . I know this is only March but books like this don't come along very often .I was asked where that place was that this book took me so I am adding this . (view spoiler)[We probably all know what it's like to suffer - maybe physically , or at the loss of loved ones or a myriad of other things that could affect our lives . But the main character who is left at birth suffers unspeakable abuses - physical, sexual and deeply emotional abuses at the hands of some depraved individuals from the time he is a young boy to his teenage years . This is suffering that I can only imagine and I am amazed how the author conveyed this suffering and made me feel some of this by suffering along with Jude . I've suffered physically at times and certainly emotionally at times but anything I knew of this pales in comparison to what this character goes through. This is that place that this book took me. (hide spoiler)]Thanks to Doubleday and NetGalley .

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-12-19 11:49

    Such an incredibly hard book to read, and yet a beautiful book too, on the true meaning of friendship. Written so tenderly, poignantly and with raw honesty. The characters run the gamut from those among us who are the most cruel, the most hateful and those who are able to offer a love that is profound, unconditional and where many of us probably fall, wanting to be better than we are.The characters are human, flawed, some almost too good to be true, and yet it is the moments we don't see, that we hear about that defines this book, in the thoughts of the characters, the empty spaces. How does one forgive one's own past, a place and upbringing that was not ones choice? Why do we hang on to a place, a state of mind, that causes us nothing but pain? The writing is exemplary, the abuse scenes can be graphic, but offset by friendships that are amazing, love that is wonderful. I have read so many articles where critics and readers both decry, "Where are the published books that will later be considered a classic?" I think this one will, one of the best, most sincere, if painful books, I have read in a long time.

  • Nat
    2018-12-27 15:04

    I was hesitant at first with picking this up because I thought A Little Life revolved around four white dudes and their #whitepeopleproblems. But oh, was I incredibly mistaken. The cast of characters in this one is far from what I thought; it tackles a variety of topics such as sexuality, race, disabilities, mental illness, and so much more.Not what I expected and for once, I was glad to be so off-track.If you're looking to diversify your reading (as you should!!), this book has it all:• POC characters.• Multiple LGBTQ+ ships.• Disabled main character.• Honest look on mental health and mental illnesses.This review contains *spoilers*.SourceThis profound, tragic, memorable book centered around four college roommates from a small Massachusetts college moving to New York to make their way, is more complex than meets the eye. First and foremost, Yanagihara is a storyteller and her detailed and complex characters drive her work. 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.Let's take a minute to start from the beginning and really understand each member that creates this dynamic foursome:Jude St. Francis (aka the one who deserves the whole wide world and more):We get to know Jude slowly but surely, and the one thing I remember most was how I truly enjoyed the specificity and depth of his character. He made me see the world anew and think differently as well.Also, I keep going back in my mind to his first and only social worker, “and the first person who had never betrayed him,” and every time I just end up in tears.“I don’t see why I have to talk about it at all,” he muttered at her once. He knew she had read his records from Montana; he knew she knew what he was. She was quiet. “One thing I’ve learned,” she said, “you have to talk about these things while they’re fresh. Or you’ll never talk about them. I’m going to teach you how to talk about them, because it’s going to get harder and harder the longer you wait, and it’s going to fester inside you, and you’re always going to think you’re to blame. You’ll be wrong, of course, but you’ll always think it.”She was Jude's rock, and seeing her slowly disappear made my everything hurt. Ana was good people, the best.“You’re going to be great at college,” she said. She shut her eyes. “The other kids are going to ask you about how you grew up, have you thought about that?”“Sort of,” he said. It was all he thought about.“Mmph,” she grunted. She didn’t believe him either. “What are you going to tell them?” And then she opened her eyes and looked at him.“I don’t know,” he admitted.“Ah, yes,” she said. They were quiet. “Jude,” she began, and then stopped. “You’ll find your own way to discuss what happened to you. You’ll have to, if you ever want to be close to anyone. But your life—no matter what you think, you have nothing to be ashamed of, and none of it has been your fault. Will you remember that?”It was the closest they had ever gotten to discussing not only the previous year but the years that preceded it, too. “Yes,” he told her.She glared at him. “Promise me.”“I promise.”But even then, he couldn’t believe her.She sighed. “I should’ve made you talk more,” she said. It was the last thing she ever said to him. Two weeks later—July third—she was dead.”I had to stop myself from crying then. Her death was all I thought about in the days following. It impacted more than I anticipated, which just goes to show how every single character in A Little Life was extremely well developed. Even when we only have a glimpse of them on the page.Also, this:“You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.”Willem Ragnarsson aka the best friend you'll ever have:Oh man, the love I have for this one is hard to capture in words. Willem was what made this novel start off so promising for me. The love and patience he has for his friends, especially for Jude, was truly inspiring. And their connection in their twenties was on a whole other level.“Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified.”I wanted Willem, who was humble, hardworking and diligent, to have everything he deserved, everything he desired. He was my favorite.Also, this:“Sometimes he wakes so far from himself that he can’t even remember who he is. “Where am I?” he asks, desperate, and then, “Who am I? Who am I?”And then he hears, so close to his ear that it is as if the voice is originating inside his own head, Willem’s whispered incantation. “You’re Jude St. Francis. You are my oldest, dearest friend. You’re the son of Harold Stein and Julia Altman. You’re the friend of Malcolm Irvine, of Jean-Baptiste Marion, of Richard Goldfarb, of Andy Contractor, of Lucien Voigt, of Citizen van Straaten, of Rhodes Arrowsmith, of Elijah Kozma, of Phaedra de los Santos, of the Henry Youngs.“You’re a New Yorker. You live in SoHo. You volunteer for an arts organization; you volunteer for a food kitchen.“You’re a swimmer. You’re a baker. You’re a cook. You’re a reader. You have a beautiful voice, though you never sing anymore. You’re an excellent pianist. You’re an art collector. You write me lovely messages when I’m away. You’re patient. You’re generous. You’re the best listener I know. You’re the smartest person I know, in every way. You’re the bravest person I know, in every way.“You’re a lawyer. You’re the chair of the litigation department at Rosen Pritchard and Klein. You love your job; you work hard at it.“You’re a mathematician. You’re a logician. You’ve tried to teach me, again and again.“You were treated horribly. You came out on the other end. You were always you.”In the end, all I can say is I LOVED HIM SO FUCKING MUCH.Malcolm Irvine the “noncommittal” and conventional one:We got to know so little about Malcolm that at first all I associated with him was his money and work. I did, however, love how he slowly but surely found his passion and ambition while renovating each and every one of his friends' houses. You could feel his devotion and dedication pouring off the page. Jean-Baptiste “JB” Marion the self-involved one:I don't even know where to start with JB because he had a lot going on that ended up affecting all of them. But I do want to focus on one major event that destroyed what had been more than twenty years of friendship when he decided hurt Jude in the most traumatising way by “impersonating” him. And I was gobsmacked even more when we got to see the aftermath it left on both sides. I always loved seeing the four of them together. They truly had something special. And I still can't forgive him for ruining it like that; for hurting Jude like that.“Why did you do that, JB? Why did you do that to him, of all people?”And then, suddenly, things began to turn a bit sour for me... There's just such a thing as too much tragedy in novels, and I'm not sure the author got that. At a certain point when truly atrocious things were happening time after time after time, I was left feeling numb.I mean:• Jude has a profoundly disturbing (disturbing doesn't even begin to describe it) childhood from literally day one.• Jude gets abused, sold into prostitution, kidnapped, run over by a car—and all before the age of fifteen.• Jude began a relationship that quickly turned out to be abusive and deadly, and it had its long-term reverberations.• Jude loses the people important to him the instant they truly connect. MULTIPLE TIMES.• Jude has to get his legs amputated.• Jude tries to end his life. MULTIPLE TIMES.• The more the novel progressed, the worse things were getting in Jude's life.Willem the Hero/ Ragnarsson the Terrible perfectly describes how it felt hearing about all the horrors Jude went through:“He felt that he had in some ways learned more about Jude in the past year than he had in the past twenty-six, and each new thing he learned was awful: Jude’s stories were the kinds of stories that he was unequipped to answer, because so many of them were unanswerable. The story of the scar on the back of his hand—that had been the one that had begun it—had been so terrible that Willem had stayed up that night, unable to sleep, and had seriously contemplated calling Harold, just to be able to have someone else share the story with him, to be speechless alongside him.”The more I read, the more I understood that there was no mercy, particularly for Jude. He went through so much intense shit, and it got to a point where it was physically painful to read. Some stories were so terrible that it had left me with a full night of contemplation. Where were the silver linings?I talked it over with my mother and the more I discussed it, the more I realized how livid I was at the manipulativeness I felt in the writing. I mean, Willem got into a fucking car accident by the last hundred pages or so and I felt NOTHING. That's how messed up I found this book. My favorite characters dies and I feel nothing. And I quickly realized that it wasn't me, it was the book. At a certain point after you read about only pain, pain and pain, you end up feeling nothing at all. It was just too much for me. Don't get me wrong, A Little Life was a good book, but by the end, I was more than ready to leave.So I'm not sure whether I loved this book as much as I did in the first part (because it had some lightness in it) or if I'm tremendously disappointed as I felt in the last part (because it had so much darkness in it). A Little Life has been pretty well talked up so my expectations were clearly high. But still, did disappoint a bit.*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying A Little Life, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!* This review and more can be found on my blog.

  • Nnenna
    2018-12-30 15:56

    Is there life after A Little Life? Finished this book seconds ago and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to adequately describe how I feel about it. 8/12/15 Edited to add my longer review:Let me just begin by saying that I absolutely loved this book and there’s no way this little review of mine will do it justice. I’m going to attempt to explain how I feel about this book anyway. I will admit that right now it’s too precious to me and I cannot highlight any flaws, but what review is objective?A Little Life is the story of four friends: Jude, the intelligent lawyer with a past that constantly threatens his present; Willem, an aspiring actor with a kindness that knows no bounds; Malcolm, who builds tiny houses and likes the control and creativity that architecture requires; and finally JB, the artist with a personality that dominates any room. The book generally takes place in New York City. When it begins, our main characters have recently graduated college and are struggling to make their way in the world. For the rest of the novel we follow their lives over the next 30+ years. We observe friendships strengthen and weaken, romantic relationships begin and end, and the trajectory of their professional careers. This book is about their lives and as you read it, you feel like you’re experiencing your own little life.It’s been nearly a week since I finished this book and I still feel so close to it and to the characters. I cannot remember the last time a book had such a huge emotional impact on me. The characters are masterfully written and completely engrossing. I truly felt like these characters were living, breathing people (and even at this moment, I almost think that they’re somewhere out there in the city now, walking around and living their lives). I felt like they were my friends. I was so completely and totally invested in their lives that every triumph and tragedy in this book hit me hard. I thought that Yanagihara’s writing was simple and elegant and that the entire story was utterly powerful. She has a skill for putting things plainly and perfectly, so that a mere sentence can feel like a sucker punch to the gut.Also, I must mention that this book deals with very difficult subjects, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Some incidents are described in more detail than others, but if any of those topics are triggers for you, then this may not be the book for you. This book is about what it means to be human and about the evolution of friendships and relationships It’s also about what it means to belong, and how we find our place in the world. It asks, “What is a life and what makes it worth living?”Throughout the novel, characters are stretched past the limits of what they believe they can endure, and I felt a bit like that as I was reading. By the time I finished, I was physically and mentally spent and I marveled that a book had made me feel that way. I’m sure you’ve heard that this book is overwhelmingly sad, and that’s true, but where there is darkness, there is also light.I’m just in awe of this book. I cried tears of happiness and tears of despair, and on more than one occasion, I cried myself to sleep. I think what Hanya Yanagihara was able to achieve with this book is a testament to literature. This experience reminded me why reading will always be an important and necessary part of my life.

  • Elyse
    2018-12-19 10:56

    It's a difficult novel to summarize the philosophical tone of this novel. It is at the same time wry, realistic, acutely sensitive....(disturbing examination of the lifelong abuse of one of the characters), ......and the type of book you read once in a lifetime. Just as in real life... Friendships build more friends... Expanding the community circle. At the start of friendships (which will span over many years)....Four students: Willem, Jude, Jd, and Malcom share a cinder-blocked common dormitory. We continue to meet real people... friends of friends of friends.... always with a strong focus of these 4 friends. (The Core Group). Two other outstanding characters outside the 'core' are Harold, and Andy. Even the minor characters are not forgotten: Eriza, Julia, Black Henry Young, Asian Henry Young, Richard, Mr. Irvine, Flora, Phaedra, Citizen, Lucien, Rosen Pritchard, Sophie, India, etc etc. How do these friends help each other? What do they each bring to the group? Why are they destined for friendship? How do they react when tragedy faces them? "When they were young, they had only their secrets to give one another: confessions were currency, and divulgences were a form of intimacy. Withholding the details from your friends, considered first a sort of mystery, and then a kind of stinginess, one that it was understood would preclude true friendship". I found myself unable to tear myself away from this novel during the final scenes. I'm left with two word: LITERARY GENIUS!!!!!

  • Carol (Bookaria)
    2018-12-27 11:05

    After finishing this book I'm a little dead inside. Before reading A Little Life somebody described it to me as "emotionally gut-wrenching" and being the coward that I am I avoided reading it until this month, when our book club selected it for discussion. The story follows the lives of four men starting from their college years and continuing for decades throughout their lives. The author is brilliant and did an excellent job drawing these complex characters.The writing is beautiful. The story is both captivating and almost unbearable to read. It is a book I will never forget, profoundly sad... and yet I cared for these characters very much and could not stop reading it. Is it a novel of friendship, loneliness, relationships, endurance, childhood, trauma, and adulthood. I enjoyed it and highly recommend it!

  • Nette
    2018-12-18 08:44

    I'm not quite sure what to say about this book, which is both compulsively readable and so overwrought that when I described the plot to my twenty-something niece during a walk she laughed so hard she almost fell off the sidewalk. The central character, Jude St. Francis (that's where she started laughing) is the victim of a childhood of horrible abuse, so over-the-top horrible it makes Oliver Twist seem like a Bobbsey Twin. ("OK, and after the priest got done prostituting him he gets taken in by a doctor. A pedophile doctor." "WHAT?")Instead of turning out violent or homeless or at the very least socially inept, Jude becomes a successful corporate lawyer who speaks many languages, plays the piano brilliantly, and treats friends and strangers with gentleness and decency. He deals with his trauma by injuring himself, which is the one realistic aspect of this book, where totally straight men happily turn gay to care for their best friend (Jude) , a doctor cuts vacations and surgeries short to care for his beloved favorite patient (Jude), a rich couple adopts a thirty-year-old man (Hey! Jude), a famous artist builds an entire career painting pictures of -- well, guess who.And I really got the sense that the author was getting off on her endless and loving descriptions of Jude's cutting and burning and suicide attempts. It reminded me of those web pages where anorexics trade barfing tips.But I'm giving it three stars because I read all 700 pages in three days.

  • Homer
    2019-01-12 09:50

    Μάσησα με τις δακρύβρεχτες κριτικές σας, με τα 5αστερα σας, με τις ωραιότατες κριτικές σε εφημερίδες και βιβλιοφιλικά μπλόγκς τύπου "Σπαρακτικό!" και "Αριστούργημα" ! Τα ίδια μπλόγκς που δίνουν "Δυο τυχεροί από εσάς θα κερδίσουν ένα αντίτυπο από τις εκδόσεις Μεταίχμιο". Όχι, ρε πούστηδες, εγώ πλήρωσα το δικό μου αντίτυπο. Τα λεφτά μου πίσω. Τις ώρες που αφιέρωσα σε αυτό τον ατελείωτο αχταρμά φτηνού μελοδραματισμού και νεοπολούτιστικου lifestyle, πίσω. Ε λοιπόν, όχι. Η "Λίγη Ζωή" όχι μόνο δεν είναι το καλύτερο βιβλίο της χρονιάς, όχι μόνο είναι ίσως ένα από τα χειρότερα, αλλά και ένα από τα πιοεπικίνδυναβιβλία που διάβασα ποτέ. Η ίδια η συγγραφέας είναι μιαεπικίνδυνησυγγραφέας, μια manipulative bitch. Εξηγούμαι : υποτίθεται ότι παρακολουθούμε την ζωή τεσσάρων φίλων επί σχεδόν τέσσερις δεκαετίες, στην πραγματικότητα όμως διαβάζουμε για την ζωή ενός και μόνο, του Τζουντ, γύρω από τον οποίο περιστρέφονται σαν ετερόφωτοι πλανήτες οι υπόλοιποι. Ο Τζουντ που λέτε, είχε ζήσει μια άσχημη παιδική ηλικία για την οποία δεν λέει λέξη σε κανέναν. Και ενώ οποιοσδήποτε λογικός άνθρωπος θα τον είχε παρατήσει και δεν θα άντεχε το self hate του, έχει μια σειρά από υποστηρικτικούς φίλους, συνεργάτες, μέντορες, καθηγητές, αφεντικά, και δυο υπέροχους θετούς γονείς που τον υιοθετούν ως ενήλικο στα 30 του, ο ίδιος μας πρήζει επί 900 ΣΕΛΙΔΕΣ τα συκώτια. Λοιπόν, δεν θέλει πολλή φαντασία για να καταλάβεις το τρομερό μυστικό του Τζουντ, και δεν σας κάνω και κανένα μεγάλο spoiler εδώ : μεγάλωσε σε μοναστήρι, έζησε μια άσχημη παιδική ηλικία για την οποία δεν θέλει να πει τίποτα, δεν έχει σεξουαλική ζωή, do the math. Ο Τζουντ ως ανήλικος λοιπόν βιάζονταν στο μοναστήρι, στο ίδρυμα, σε ξενοδοχεία. Και παρά το έζησε μια εντελώς κακή παιδική ηλικία, με απουσία οποιασδήποτε proper σχολικής εκπαίδευσης (εκτός αν πιάνονται τα ενδιάμεσα μαθήματα που του έκανε ο μοναχός ο οποίος τον εξέδιδε) ο Τζουντ πήγε Νομική στο Χάρβαρντ, έκανε μεταπτυχιακά στα "Καθαρά Μαθηματικά" (γιατί τι πιο χρήσιμο για ένα δικηγόρο από ένα Μεταπτυχιακό στα Pure Math), έμαθε να παίζει καταπληκτικά πιάνο, να τραγουδάει λιμπρέτα, να κάνει τούρτες, και να μαγειρεύει τέλεια. Εξελίχτηκε δε αρχικά σε έναν εκπληκτικό βοηθό Εισαγγελέα και μετά σε ένα εκπληκτικό δικηγόρο που σκοτώνονται οι δικηγορικές εταιρίες ποια θα τον πρωτοπάρει. Really. Κατά την διάρκεια όμως αυτών των 40 χρόνων, σχεδόν επί 4 δεκαετίες, ο Τζουντ χαρακώνεται, σχεδόν επί καθημερινής βάσης, χτυπάει τον εαυτό του στους τοίχους, μέχρι φωτιά στο χέρι του βάζει ! Και οι φίλοι του ; Οι φίλοι του είναι σε φάση "Πες μας, Τζουντ" και αυτός σας πεισμωμένη γκόμενα "Τίποτα δεν έχω". Και φτάνω γιατί θεωρώεπικίνδυνοαυτό το ογκόλιθο αμετροέπειας : η συγγραφεύς που λέτε, η Γιαναγιμουσχάρα, είναι κατά της Ψυχιατρικής. Το διάβασα τυχαία σε ένα λινκ εδώ σε δικιά της συνέντευξη, αλλά φαίνεται και από το ίδιο το βιβλίο. Είναι η καινούρια τάση να απαξιώνεις έναν ιατρικό κλάδο, το είχε κάνει και ο Τομ Κρουζ για την Μπρουκ Σιλντς όταν εξομολογήθηκε την επιλόχειο κατάθλιψη της. Εδώ έχουμε έναν τύπο που ουσιαστικά βιάζονταν σχεδόν σε όλη την παιδική του ηλικία (θα ξανάρθω ξανά σε αυτό αργότερα) και ΚΟΒΕΤΑΙ ΕΠΙ ΣΑΡΑΝΤΑ ΧΡΟΝΙΑ (αλλά φαίνεται όχι μόνο να είναι λειτουργικός στην εργασία του, αλλά και επιτυχημένος), και κανείς δεν του συστήνει να πάει να δει ΕΝΑΝ ΓΑΜΗΜΕΝΟ ΨΥΧΙΑΤΡΟ. Έχει ένα γιατρό, τον Αντυ, ο οποίος τον κουράρει επί σαράντα χρόνια (και επί 900 σελίδες) και ουσιαστικά κάθε λίγο και λιγάκι η υπόθεση πάει ως εξής :*Τζουντ κόβεται**Γιατρός περιποιείται τραύματα*-Δεν θα το ξανακάνεις, Τζουντ, έτσι-Συγγνώμη, Άντυ.(Repeat X 1000)Oι φίλοι του, οι θετοί γονείς του, ο γιατρός του αντί να τον βουτήξουν από το λαιμό και να του κάνουν μια ωραιότατη ακούσια νοσηλεία, αρκούνται στην περιποίηση των τραυμάτων του. Δηλαδή, ακούστε διάλογο :(Ρωτάει ο Γουίλιεμ, ο φίλος του, τον Άντυ) :- Άντυ, πες μου την αλήθεια : Έχει κάποια ψυχική διαταραχή (Ο Τζουντ) ;- Δεν το νομίζω, Γουίλιεμ. Ή μάλλον : δεν νομίζω ότι κάτι τρέχει από χημικής άποψης. Νομίζω ότι η τρέλα του είναι εξολοκλήρου ανθρώπινο κατασκεύασμα"ΔΕΝ ΝΟΜΙΖΩ ΟΤΙ ΚΑΤΙ ΤΡΕΧΕΙ ΑΠΟ ΧΗΜΙΚΗΣ ΑΠΟΨΗΣ."Μιλάμε για έναν άνθρωπο που βιάζονταν σε όλη του την παιδική ηλικία, κόβεται ακατάπαυστα, έχει κάνει μια απόπειρα αυτοκτονίας, δεν μπορεί την φυσική άνθρωπινη επαφή (ακόμη και μια απλή αγκαλιά), αλλά ΔΕΝ ΤΡΕΧΕΙ ΤΙΠΟΤΑ.Λίγο αργότερα, σε έναν ακόμη ακατάπαυστο εσωτερικό μονόλογο ενός ήρωα, η Γιαναγιμουσχάρα θα μας πει πόσο άχρηστη είναι ψυχιατρική ως επιστήμη και ουσιαστικά ο Τζουντ είναι beyond repair, μια lost case. Καθόλου τυχαία, θα κάνει την εμφάνιση του ένα αγαλματίδιο του Άγιου Ιούδα του Θαδδαίου, του Προστάτη των Χαμένων Υποθέσεων. Για αυτό λοιπόν θεωρώεπικίνδυνοαυτό το βιβλίο και τη συγγραφέα του : θεωρεί άχρηστη την ψυχιατρική γιατί υπάρχουν άτομα που είναι χαμένες υποθέσεις, και σαδιστικά λοιπόν τους οδηγεί βήμα-βήμα στην αυτοκαταστροφή. Είχα μαλώσει-και μάλιστα σε δημόσιο χώρο, σε ταβέρνα-με συνάδελφο που σχολίαζε άλλο (απόντα) συνάδελφο που "ομολόγησε" ότι βλέπει ψυχίατρο (και μάλλον παίρνει και αγωγή). Ήταν της άποψης ότι δεν χρειάζονται ψυχίατροι, απλά "get over it" και ότι "μπορείς να τα πεις στους φίλους σου". Έτσι όμως επιβιώνει το στίγμα, και του "τι χρειάζονται οι ψυχίατροι, πες τα σε ένα φίλο". Μα ο Τζουντ είχε πολλούς καλούς φίλους που τον ανέχτηκαν επί σαράντα χρόνια (εγώ θα τον είχα παρατήσει στο φτερό) και όμως καταστρεφόταν μέρα με τη μέρα. Γιατί ο κωλογιατρός δεν τον έστειλε σε ένα ψυχίατρο ; Γιατί είπαμε, η ψυχιατρική είναι άχρηστη, και μαντέψτε : ένας ενήλικας που βίασε και κατακράτησε τον ανήλικο Τζουντ στο σπίτι του ήταν ψυχίατρος ! Το επίσης προσβλητικό του βιβλίου είναι οι απιθανότητες του : το παρελθόν από την μια που ο Τζουντ πιο εύκολα έπεφτε πάνω σε παιδεραστή παρά σε ταξί. Τον βίαζαν στο μοναστήρι, τον εξέδιδαν μετά, τον βίαζαν στο ίδρυμα οι σύμβουλοι. Πόσο πιθανό είναι αυτό ; Επίσης σε όλη του την ενήλικη ζωή ο Τζουντ συναναστρέφεται κατά 80% με gay άτομα, αυτό όμως δεν το πολυσχολιάζω γιατί θα έπρεπε αντιστρόφως να σχολιάσω ένα οποιοδήποτε μυθιστόρημα που έχει μόνο straight χαρακτήρες (πάντως στατιστικά απίθανο ακόμη και στην cool New York των γραμμάτων και των τεχνών να είναι όλοι σχεδόν gay). Και φτάνουμε στο παρόν όπου οι ήρωες κινούνται σε ένα μαγικό παπακαλιάτειο σύμπαν : είναι ΟΛΟΙ επιτυχημένοι : ο ένας είναι αστέρας του κινηματογράφου (και του εναλλακτικού, και του εμπορικού), ο άλλος πετυχημένος ζωγράφος με εκθέσεις στη ΜΟΜΑ (αν και το έργο του περιορίζεται στα πορτραίτα των φίλων του), ο άλλος πετυχημένος αρχιτέκτονας (με γραφεία παντού), και φυσικά ο Τζουντ, ο επιτυχημένος μαθηματικός/πιανίστας/τραγουδιστής/ζαχαροπλάστης/μάγειρας/βοηθός Εισαγγελέα, τώρα και σατανικός δικηγόρος, ο φόβος των αντιπάλων που ανέρχεται ταχέως στη γαμάτη δικηγορική εταιρία, όπου κατά τα φαινόμενα μπορείς να λείπεις επί εβδομάδες γιατί νοσηλεύεσαι επειδή κόβεσαι/αποπειράσαι να αυτοκτονήσεις, αλλά όχι μόνο δεν σε απολύουν, αλλά σε προάγουν. Επίσης, ζει σε λοφτ με υπόγεια πισίνα, έχει σπίτι στο Λονδίνο, χτίζει ένα άλλο με δική του λίμνη και δάσος (!), και όλοι γενικά πετιούνται στο Λονδίνο (για την ημέρα των Ευχαριστιών και μόνο!), στη Ρώμη, στο Παρίσι για την Labor Day, στο Παρίσι για τα γενέθλια του Τζουντ (μαλάκα μου, εδώ βαρέθηκα να πάω στα γενέθλια συναδέλφου σε διπλανή πόλη, όχι να κάνω το Νέα Υόρκη-Παρίσι, ΠΑΤΕ ΚΑΛΑ),στην Καμπότζη για να δούνε ένα πρώην συγκάτοικο (!), στο Μπουτάν (?) για να δούνε έναν άλλο φίλο που έγινε Υπουργός Δασών (!), στην Ισπανία όπου τους ανοίγουν ένα Μουσείο για private tour γιατί είναι γνωστοί του γνωστού του Υπουργού Πολιτισμού...επίσης τρώνε σε φανταστικά μέρη σούσι και άλλα διάφορα φανταστικά φαγητά. Στο ενδιάμεσο κατά τα άλλα ο Τζουντ "δουλεύει 20 ώρες την ημέρα", τι στο διάολο δικηγόρος είναι, δεν τον κυνηγάει καμία προθεσμία ; A...η Γιαναγιμουσχάρα δούλευε στο Conde Nast Traveller και τώρα στο The New York Times Style Magazine, για αυτή μάλλον η ζωή είναι ένα ατελείωτο ταξίδι που περιλαμβάνει μόνο 5αστερα ξενοδοχεία και μια gay αισθητική και lifestyle (όπως την φαντάζεται τουλάχιστον η ίδια). Δεν είναι μόνο ότι ηθικά και αισθητικά η Λίγη Ζωή είναι ένακακόβιβλίο. Δραματουργικά αν το ίδιο στόρυ σας το πλάσαρε καμιά Δημουλίδου θα βγάζατε φλύκταινες. Είναι ένα κακό movie of the week/success story, από τον παιδικό βιασμό στο μοναστήρι-------> ιδιόκτητο λοφτ και πισίνα. Και κυρίως είναι 900 ΓΑΜΩΣΕΛΙΔΕΣ. Δεν υπάρχει ΙΧΝΟΣ editing, έπρεπε να υπάρχει ένας επιμελητής με αρχίδια και να της πει "Άκου κουκλιτσα μου, Γιαναγιμουσχάρα-πως-σε-λένε, από το βιβλιαράκι θα κόψουμε καμιά 400 σελίδες". (Επίσης : η πρωτότυπη έκδοση έχει 750 σελίδες, η ελληνική-και πιο μεγάλη σαν μέγεθος μάλιστα-900 σελίδες, τι σκατά, πρόσθεσαν κεφάλαια; ) Μα ουσιαστικά αν και διατρέχει τέσσερις δεκαετίες, συνειδητοποίησα με φρίκη ότι είχα φτάσει στη μέση του βιβλίου, και το μόνο που κίνησε λίγο μπροστά την πλοκή ήταν ότι ο Τζουντ πήρε καινούριο σπίτι παλιό λοφτ να κάνει πατινάζ με υπόγεια πισίνα και τον υιοθέτησε ο καθηγητής του στη σχολή ως ενήλικο (ωωω...τι γλυκό) παρά του ότι δεν ξέρει τίποτα για αυτόν, αφού αρνείται πεισματικά να πει ο,οτιδήποτε για το παρελθόν του. Και ήταν τόσο κουραστικό, τόσο αχρείαστα περιγραφικό, τόσες αχρείαστες επαναλήψεις (πόσες φορές θα διαβάσουμε για τα κοψίματα του Τζουντ και την περιποίηση από τον γιατρό του ; πόσες φορές θα διαβάσουμε για τα τραπεζώματα τους την Ημέρα των Ευχαριστιών), που ούτε μια στιγμή δεν ένιωσα συγκίνηση για τον Τζουντ, αλλά παρακαλούσα να τελειώσει. Που ήταν το "κλάμα" και οι "δακρυάρες" που μου υποσχεθήκατε ; Να ανησυχώ για την συναισθηματική μου νοημοσύνη ; Γαμώτο, είχα κλάψει από τον Τιτανικό μέχρι το φινάλε του Six Feet Under και το χριστουγεννιάτικο επεισόδιο του Παρά Πέντε (όλα όταν πρωτοβγήκαν βέβαια). Κλαίω αλήθεια τα λεφτά μου, τον χαμένο χρόνο μου, την ευπιστία μου σε διάφορα μπλογκς που το πλασάρανε ως "το βιβλίο της χρονιάς"Αποφύγετε το βιβλίο σαν τον καρκίνο.

  • Jennifer Masterson
    2019-01-03 15:05

    "A Little Life" is one of the best books of the year, if not decade. It will be talked about for generations. What Yanagihara has created is unlike anything I have ever read. This book is Pulitzer material and sure to become a modern classic."A Little Life" is about 4 men who meet at a college in Massachusetts (Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB) and they stay friends long after college is over. The book spans decades. Without giving away too much, it is truly about the character, Jude St. Francis, and what his life was like before he met these 3 friends, and how that life before affects everything and everyone around him. Slowly Jude's story unravels throughout the book. It is so masterfully done that at times I was weeping so hard I had to put the book down. It is about life, love, compassion, and kindness. There are other characters weaved into the story (Andy, Harold, Julia, Richard, etc). I think what makes this book even more impressive and actually takes it to an even higher level of brilliance is that Yanagihara is a woman! She is able to be the mind and soul of a man, Jude! It's unreal how brilliant this author is.I don't want to say much more and spoil this experience. I will say that I was sucked into this book so much so that I felt like I was actually there with these characters. I could feel Jude's pain. It wasn't always pleasant, but it was a cathartic experience.Don't let the 720 pages scare you away. It reads fast and is worth every page! A MUST READ!

  • Larry H
    2019-01-14 13:41

    I'll cut to the chase on this one fairly quickly: Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life is nothing short of an utter masterpiece. This book is one of the most dazzlingly brilliant, emotionally moving books I've ever read, and it will be a long time before I can get these characters and their story out of my head. And truth be told, as painful as this book was in places, I don't know if I want to be rid of these characters anytime soon."It is always easier to believe what you already think than to try to change your mind."A Little Life spans several decades in the lives of four college friends—Willem, who becomes an actor; Malcolm, an architect; JB, an artist; and Jude, who becomes a lawyer. Each has their own emotional triggers and their challenges, both professionally and personally. While the book focuses on each of the four, it is enigmatic, troubled Jude who serves as the book's anchor and its soul.I went into this book knowing very little about the plot, mainly what I've outlined above, and I honestly am thankful for it. This is such a powerful book, and as issues were confronted, joyous moments celebrated, and troubling moments lamented over and deeply felt, not knowing what to expect made the impact of the story even more resonant for me.Yanagihara is a writer of exquisite beauty and she has created fascinating characters; none more so than Jude and Willem. Jude is truly unlike any character I think I've ever come across (and I read a ton of books). Never has a character moved me so, upset me so, and made me feel so powerfully. This is a story that finds wonder in the mundane but also dwells on truly troubling issues as well. Obviously, it is a book about the power of friendship and love—platonic, romantic, filial—but it is also a story of the fragility of emotions, the fears we must confront, and the devastating effects a lack of self-worth can have.This is a difficult and painful book to read in many places, but even as it tore my heart and made me cry (more than a few times), I couldn't get enough of it. It's amazing that a book of 700-plus pages can feel at once both so weighty and so light, but that is a testament to Yanagihara's talent. I find it hard to believe I will find a better book this year, and I think this may very well be among the top three books I've read in the last several years.I try not to hype books, nor do I try to give into hype. But read this. In the end, this is a book that needs to be read, with characters who need to be experienced and felt. Just wow. See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....

  • Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
    2018-12-26 10:51

    So a little time has passed since I finished this book & because of how frequently it has crossed my mind in the last few months, I've decided to go ahead and rate it a full five stars. It's not very often a book stays with as this one has, and in special cases like this I want my rating to reflect my overall experience with the book. You guys, this is an incredibly difficult book to review. There is so much emotion packed between these 720 pages.In fact, there's so much that when I sit down & try to articulate how I feel, I find all of those emotions flooding back over me & washing my words away into a jumble.This is the story of a group of young men, and how their relationships evolve & change as they grow older. It's entirely character driven, which I feel is important to know beforehand.I must first comment on how much I love the title of this novel. When I pick this up book, I feel as though I am literally holding the entirety of a person's existence in my hands; the laughs and hurts and pleasures and pains that make up the human experience all expertly fashioned into paper & ink. Like cradling a tiny universe.When an author sets out portray a set of believable characters, individuals with their own unique personalities, careers, and passions, & then must develop them in a realistic way over the course of decades, the result is going to be a slow-paced & lengthy book. Personally, I had no qualms taking my time & absorbing every detail Yanagihara had to offer. I felt completely involved with her characters, so much so that reading A Little Life felt much like reading about old friends. It's the feeling of standing on the sidelines, watching someone you love fall apart with no ability to help them.The topics presented are not to be taken lightly, and I feel as though each is given the proper consideration & significance.This book explores the spectrum of kindness & cruelty, intentionally juxtaposing the two in a story that is beautiful & tragic all at once.It poses the question: is a book restricted by its characters' ability to heed its own message?My answer: No.For the sake of keeping my review spoiler free I'll leave it at this.I believe it is important to write stories with endings that respect the subject matter.I enjoyed this book as much as you can enjoy something that breaks your heart multiple times. Across all those pages, I never once lost interest.I have perhaps a handful of tweaks I would make, but I don't believe they're consequential enough to hugely impact my opinion.Know Before You Read: Trigger Warning for Rape, Child Abuse, Physical Abuse, Drug Abuse, Suicide, and Self-Harm, would not recommend for those who may be uncomfortable reading about these topics.This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!

  • Perry
    2019-01-14 12:50

    This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly.... It should be thrown with great force.Dorothy ParkerAuthor Admits Intentional Manipulation of Readers in Piece of Pain Porn“Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise.― Philip Roth. ReviewI hate this novel. Yes, hate. It's an extremely elongated form of a wince-filled tearjerker film. In this [Vulture piece] the author discussed how she was inspired to create a novel of ombré cloth. If you don't know, an ombré cloth is one that by the time you get to the end is pitch black. As Goodreads member Ashley says in her review (link's below), "Yeah, let's make art that will stain our souls!!!" If I was writing this review as some sort of literary quasi-critic, I might give this book 4 stars because it is well written with fully developed characters, and it thoroughly explores the devastating, lifelong impact of child abuse on the abused (and those in her/his life) in a way that reveals the dreadful truth, which is, I think, a primary purpose of great novels. As Picasso said, "Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth." Unfortunately, as set out below, the author's intentions were less than honest in writing a novel here. I must be truthful in writing this review to whomever might read this to determine if this is a book they may enjoy. On this count, I'll say this whole ordeal (I refer here to the act of reading the book) was way more than I could bear. Moreover, this novel is the saddest and gloomiest I've ever read. A doctor who's read this book would have to strongly advise a patient suffering clinical depression to avoid the misery of reading it... at all costs. While I admire Yanagihara for tackling a highly important subject to provoke positive, constructive discussions on child abuse, she as much as admitted in an interview shortly after the book's publication that she purposefully set out to manipulate her readers and inflict upon them (me) excessive pain and anguish, as much as possible. That pisses me off. And, this indignation has not left me a year and a half out from Suffering A Little Life.This violates the implicit compact between readers and author: for the former to keep an open mind and suspend disbelief in reading the novel, and for the latter to write a story as truthfully as possible, which means not deceptively attempting to manipulate the reader's emotions. To write the story with its fictive facts in a way that is honest, veridical. Sure, the writer can sway with subtext and mood and motifs. Yet, I don't recall a writer, as did this one, who admits that her purpose in writing this book was to make the reader feel as awful and as sad as possible.Faulkner, no writer of uplifting books himself, said "the writer's privilege" is "to help man endure by lifting his heart." To be sure, I've read plenty of sad novels (including some of my favorites); most of the great ones are, in one way or another, depressing. And yet, when I look back I can find something spiritually uplifting in each. Nothing in this novel lifted my heart.For these reasons, I'm giving the novel 1 star. I just wish I had the option of zero.The best, most thoughtful and thought-provoking Goodreads review of this novel that I've read is Ashley's review Also see: review from The London Review of Books [Review]: "He wishes he too could forget, that he too could choose never to consider Caleb again. Always, he wonders why and how he has let four months – four months increasingly distant from him – so affect him, so alter his life. But then, he might as well ask – as he often does – why he has let the first 15 years of his life so dictate the past 28."The answer, of course, is that it’s Yanagihara’s design. That’s why it’s good to know that Jude is entirely her concoction, not a figure based on testimony by survivors of child rape, clinical case studies or anything empirical. I found Jude an infuriating object of attention, but resisted blaming the victim. I blame the author.

  • FrancoSantos
    2018-12-27 08:44

    Al final, solo hay dos maneras de escribir un libro: orientado a la historia u orientado a los personajes. Por supuesto que puede haber novelas con un buen balance, sin embargo, en cuestión de importancia, me inclino siempre por los personajes. Un libro con una excelente historia pero absurdos personajes es un libro superficial, frágil, que puede resquebrajarse en cualquier momento. En cambio, un libro con personajes profundos, complejos y que respiran en cada página hacen la mejor de las historias. Es esencial entender que una historia la crean sus personajes, no al revés. Con protagonistas atractivos, reales, es seguro que un lector se sentirá a gusto hasta leyendo sus actividades más anodinas, solo porque ellos las están haciendo.A Little Life es lo que es merced a sus personajes. No hay mucho más que eso. Y, por mi parte, tampoco querría más. Cuando un escritor es capaz de crear personajes tan vívidos que los sentís a tu alrededor, esperando que te quiebres con ellos, que intentes abrazarlos y no puedas, que llores y no te consuelen, que rías y te sorprendas por ello hasta el punto de no entender la sonrisa, que sientas la esperanza y tengas miedo de que esté allí, como la amenaza de una nueva caída, que te obliguen a desear lo no querido y a reprobar lo que debería estar bien; cuando un escritor es capaz de eso, no te queda otra opción que dejarte fracturar y rendirte. No hay alternativa, no existe elección. Solo queda descubrir el alma y suplicar por piedad.La depresión es un tema delicado y generalmente mal tratado. Muchas veces se usa para que adolescentes con problemas amorosos o de baja autoestima se sientan identificados y puedan publicar frases rimbombantes en todas sus redes sociales. Eso no es necesariamente malo. En parte, para eso existe la ficción. No obstante, por esa razón la depresión pasó a ser un asunto circunscrito solo a temas superficiales que se acrecientan por el ego. Hanya Yanagihara logró lo que pocos autores lograron (se me viene a la cabeza, como no podía ser de otra manera, Foster Wallace, con su relato "La persona deprimida" o los diálogos de Kate Gompert, en La broma infinita): retratar la depresión como lo que es: una enfermedad narcisista, que inspira por su carácter al autoaborrecimiento y al castigo, a una inseguridad extrema y a una imposibilidad de mejorar. El tratamiento de este padecimiento es un punto muy fuerte de este libro. He leído algunas reseñas de gente que no entendió a Jude y que incluso lo detestó por cómo era. Ese es su efecto. Por eso es una enfermedad tan despreciable.Pero lo que hace A Little Life una obra aún más alucinante es que no se limita a seguir al deprimido (interpretado por el susodicho Jude), sino asimismo a los que lo rodean. Jude no es el único que sufre, no es la única víctima de su dolor. Así, vemos cuán duro es contemplar a quien se ama desmoronarse sin poder hacer nada para evitarlo, sin importar lo mucho que se intente y lo mucho que se desee que todo sea como debería ser. Personajes tan encantadores como Harold, JB o Willem son algunos de los que van a ilustrar el rol del espectador. Respiran y observan sin saber de qué forma actuar, con temor y silencio. No me quedan dudas de que A Little Life es el libro más humano que he leído en mi vida. Todo lo que sucede en la historia pasa por el sentimiento, todo lo que ocurre, ya sea malo o bueno, pasa por lo que nos hace humanos. Esta obra no es optimista, pero tampoco es pesimista. Es triste, desgarradora, aun así, no carece de esperanza y de expresiones intensas de bondad, tan intensas que emocionan más que la pena. Es por eso que no puedo etiquetarla con una palabra, puesto que supera lo simple y se construye a partir de lo inefable. Sin embargo, no todo es veneración. En diversas partes A Little Life falla. Es bastante melodrámatico. Tiene especialmente una escena que, en mi opinión, no debería haber ocurrido (una escena muy importante, de hecho), y tiene una ligera presuntuosidad, la suficiente para hacerme poner los ojos en blanco. En fin. A pesar de todo lo negativo, es una de las mejores novelas que he leído. A Little Life nos vuelve susceptibles y nos quita lo poco que creíamos seguro. No esperen una lectura fría. Cuando lo lean van a ser heridos, golpeados, burlados, van implorar por que se detenga pero seguirán leyendo. Van a sentir. Simplemente eso.