I started reading this a couple of months ago, a birthday gift from a dear friend. (Yeah, that’s him.) I’ve loved the cover since I’ve laid my hands on it. A man’s face full of pain which is exactly what your heart’s gonna feel once you open it.
I’ve been staring at my PC since this morning trying to find the words to say about this book. It’s not easy. But let me try.
The story follows the life of four friends: Malcolm, the architect and the quiet follower of the group; JB, the artist and the self-proclaimed alpha of the set; Willem, the actor and the most compassionate; and Jude, the lawyer, the abused, the vortex of this foursome. The characters are fully fleshed out. I’m not a particularly immersive reader but I like the book more when I get attached to the characters. I love reading about their lives. I love them. Survivors in their own way. Their friendship built a home that stood a long time, it grew and changed to accommodate more characters, friends and partners, but sadly, it can’t protect them all forever.
This is an emotionally draining read. I haven’t felt emotionally exhausted by a book since I’ve read The Kite Runner, but A Little Life did just that. There were parts that I think were too much that made it difficult to go on reading. Wrenching. And not just the heart, even the brain and stomach. Full-body-wrenching read. I’ve truly wanted Jude to be happy but at some point, it was becoming clearer that it’s not going to happen. Then from the end of The Happy Years chapter until the end of the book? I mean, seriously, why? Oh my God! It broke me. Absolute sadness that I felt like I’ve also lost all my dear friends.
So just like everyone’s life, it’s a story about a life simply lived and was helped shaped by the people and things around it. There’s love, happiness, tragedy and disappointments. Life is such a fragile thing, we never know exactly how the things we do may affect others or not, whether we do them good or we damage them, it’s not always visible to us and more often, we have no idea what our actions did to them. It’s a cautionary book, as the aphorism goes, “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
There are a lot of things to say about this book but I still can’t articulate any at the moment, I’m still at a loss. It’s simply too hard. This book isn’t little in any way. It is large in every way. Hanya Yanagihara’s writing was mostly intense, immaculate, fluid and honest. Very realistic and harsh at some point. No silver lining.
It’s a bit confusing to say that I love this book because how can I love a story which depicts other people’s pain? But it is definitely captivating, engaging, powerful. It consumed me. I highly recommend this specially for readers who like an emotional book. It’s a difficult read in more ways than one but it’s worth reading.
Quotable Quotes :
“Let me get better, he asks. Let me get better or let me end it.”
“He knew it was the price of enjoying life, that if he was to be alert to the things he now found pleasure in, he would have to accept its cost as well. Because as assaultive as his memories were, his life coming back to him in pieces, he knew he would endure them if it meant he could also have friends, if he kept being granted the ability to take comfort in others.”
“…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.”
“…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”
“He was frightened of everything, it sometimes seemed, and he hated that about himself. Fear and hatred, fear and hatred: often, it seemed, that those were the only two qualities he possessed. Fear of everyone else; hatred of himself.”
Rating : 5/5 stars
2 thoughts on “A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara”
I loved what you said at one point in your review: “Life is such a fragile thing.” Sometimes we feel and dream so big that we forget that.
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Thank you so much! 😊