Day 1161: A Little Life

Cover for A Little LifeBest of Five!
For me, anyway, it often happens that a novel gets a lot of hype, with reviewers raving about it, and when I finally read it, it is unable to live up to its reputation. Such is not the case, however, with Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. I found it to be thoroughly absorbing, all 800+ pages of it.

It begins with four young men who all roomed together in college—Willem, Jude, J.B., and Malcolm. The novel, which covers roughly thirty years, begins when they are all struggling to make their way in New York City. Willem and Jude still share a tiny apartment while Willem works as a waiter and auditions for acting parts, and Jude works as a lawyer for the district attorney’s office. Malcolm is poorly paid and given boring work in the office of a prestigious architectural firm, and J.B. is working on his art.

In at first a very subtle way, though, the novel centers around Jude. For some time, Jude remains a mysterious presence in the novel. He was severely injured when he was young, but he never speaks of that incident or any other in his past. But Jude’s life, we eventually find, is ruled by his past, during which he was repeatedly abused.

Since college, Jude believes that he has been pretending to be a different person than he is, and that if his friends found out who he really is, they would leave him. He is full of self-hatred.

This novel is extremely powerful and deals with some heavy issues. But it is beautifully and empathetically written. It makes us love some of the characters, and the others seem fully realized. I may not have read it if it hadn’t been on my Booker Prize project list, but I’m glad I did.

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4 thoughts on “Day 1161: A Little Life

  1. Rick @ AnotherBook.blog December 21, 2017 / 12:09 pm

    I am planning to read 12 “big” reads in 2018. That is, one book a month that’s over 600 pages. A Little Life has been on my shelf for about a year and I agonized over whether to make it one of my “big” reads. I ultimately chose not to, because it sounds emotionally gut-wrenching (from everything I’ve heard). I am waffling on the decision daily, though. Should I reconsider.

    I’m also planning to read The Art of Fielding in March, so that’s nice to see your shout out to it 🙂

    • whatmeread December 21, 2017 / 12:45 pm

      I liked The Art of Fielding, but I recommend A Little Life, by all means. I guess some people would consider it gut-wrenching. I always think a book that can evoke emotion from me is better than one that doesn’t.

  2. Naomi December 21, 2017 / 7:55 pm

    I loved The People in the Trees, so I imagine I’d like this one, too. Who knows when I’ll get to it, though… I’m glad you liked it so much!

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