Have you ever read a book that you hated and loved at the same time? I finished A Little Life and I can’t stop thinking that it was the best book I’ve read in a very long time, but I also have the urge to throw it against a wall. How do you recommend a book to others that made you want to cry repeatedly? How do you tell people to read something that will make them contemplate their existence and the true impact of their lives on the lives of others? You can’t. This is just me telling you about the book. The decision to read it is entirely your own.

You shouldn’t feel sorry for me about the big feelings I’m having about this story. It’s my own fault. I should have learned my lesson already about books from BookTok after the whole Haunting Adeline debacle, but I didn’t. I watched a video of a woman being filmed while reading A Little Life. She was so emotional. Her reading of this book looked like an experience. I was intrigued. Before starting the book, I asked at a recent book club meeting if anyone had read it. It was no’s all around. Yet one participant said she’d heard the book referred to as “trauma porn”. That should have served as a warning and not an enticement. Yet here I am.

And even with all the compiled trauma, I still found myself invested in the story and falling in love with the unfortunate characters. It’s hard to describe why the book is so endearing without spoiling the story, but love is at the core of it all. The strength of this book is how it leads you through the many different forms love can take. And in just the same way, it drags you through the adverse experiences of sadness, despair, and anger. This book does something that not many books can do. It makes you feel. It’s not always pleasant, but it sticks with you in a way that is rare.

I don’t regret A Little Life. It will take time for me to process the entirety of the story and my true feelings about it. I’m anticipating that, eventually, I’ll recover enough to find the courage to watch the film adaptation of the stage play. And then I can traumatize myself all over again. (Please send help).


Cover ArtA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Call Number: Orange Park Popular Fiction ; PS3625.A674 L58 2015
ISBN: 9780385539258
Publication Date: 2015-03-10
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST SHORT-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement--and a great gift for its readers.   When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring act∨ 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.   In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.