Books: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This book has a lot of trigger warnings so please read them here first 

I won't lie, this is not the kind of book I would usually go for. In fact, I only bought it because a friend (Rosie) insisted that I read it because it was traumatic but amazing. So I ordered a copy, saw how thick it was and how small the text was and then put it next to the rest of my TBR books on my bookshelf where it sat for nearly a year. Then the time came to give it a go, it had guilted me into it from the bookshelf, which I'm glad it did because it ended up being worth it. 


When four graduates 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realise, 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. - Source 

I wasn't too sure what to expect from this book at first, I hadn't really looked into it and all my friend had said to me is that it was an emotional masterpiece - So going on that I started with high hopes. However, I won't lie, I did not enjoy it at first. A Little Life tells a detailed and traumatic story of a man that from birth has experienced awful things that no one should ever have to endure. It tells the story of him living with the aftermath of the trauma and learning to develop and maintain new relationships in life. In doing that, Yanagihara also tells the stories of his friends as a sub-plot. 

It took me a while to get into A Little Life, in fact I nearly gave up on it. I found myself not wanting to read it. It felt like I was just reading a story that was only trying to think up the most awful things that could happen to someone and the write them down - I wasn't enjoying it. I told my friend (Rosie) that I was thinking of giving up with it and she insisted I keep going, so I did and about half way through the book I found myself attached to all the characters, especially to Jude and Willem and their interesting and unique relationship that develops throughout the book. 

The more I read the more I found myself thinking about the characters and what was going to happen next and how certain characters would deal with certain things that were going on in the book. I was heartbroken in places and thrilled in others. Yanagihara was not scared to touch on some very serious and heartbreaking topics in a way that didn't romanticise them or make it seem like everything will be okay just because he has support around him. It truly is a moving book that I am glad my friend made me finish. 

Was it a difficult read? Absolutely. Not only is it a long book, it's also very emotional and sad and I would definitely recommend you read the trigger warnings before picking it up, as it has a few. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. Take your time with it though, enjoy every page and take a break if it gets too much. Maybe even read something a bit more lighthearted at the same time, perhaps I should have done that but I got to a point where I couldn't put it down let alone allow more characters into my world. I would love to know if you've read it and what you thought of it! 

You can buy it here