A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
What’s it about?
Initially (the first 200 pages or so) I would have said that this book was about four college roommates and how the relationships among them evolve and change over time. Part way through the novel I realized that this story really centered on one main character, Jude, and how the abuse in his childhood forever changed him.
What did I think?
I hear the saying “you are the stories you tell yourself” all the time. This book so portrays that truth. Do those who suffer truly horrific traumas in childhood ever really get past them? Do they have the ability to change the stories they tell themselves? Maybe some do, but this is a novel about the struggle one such person faces. This novel was beautiful, wise and affirming and at the same time it was brutal, dark and at times hard to read.
Should you read it?
I would highly recommend this book, but not to everyone. It is sad and dark but an incredible character driven novel with lots of pearls of wisdom. If you are looking for a quick light read skip this one. If you can handle a novel with a dark side, then this one should not be missed!
“I have never been one of those people- I know you aren’t either, who feels that the love one has for a child is somehow a superior love, one more meaningful, more significant, and grander than any other. I didn’t feel that before Jacob, and I didn’t feel that after. But it is a singular love, because it is a love whose foundation is not physical attraction, or pleasure, or intellect, but fear. You have never known fear until you have a child, and maybe that is what tricks us into thinking that it is more magnificent, because the fear is more magnificent. Every day your first thought is not “I love him” but “How is he?” The world overnight rearranges itself into an obstacle course of terrors. I would hold him in my arms and wait to cross the street and would think how absurd it was that my child, that any child, could expect to survive this life.“
Should Jude be expected to change the story he tells himself? Is it a realistic hope?
If you like this try-
A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
We The Animals by Justin Torres
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
some favorites of the last decade
best of winter 2020
best of summer/fall 2019
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!