You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: 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.”Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life
Doubleday Publishing | March 2015 (hardcover)
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is a larger than life story.
This book. How do I review this book? A book that is so heart-crushingly devastating, yet simultaneously one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read? Basically, I loved it, wanted to scream at it, and I’ll be thinking about it for a very long time.
This is, to put it extremely vaguely, a story about incredible, unfathomable trauma and the counteracting (and sometimes not) power of love and friendship. There were moments where I had to put it down because I simply could not bear to feel anymore heartbroken. There were moments where I could not put it down because my heart was filled with joy, pride, and so many other feelings for these four beautiful people, whose friendships with each other meant the world to me.
These characters felt so incredibly real to me, even Jude, whose pain I cannot even begin to comprehend. And that is what I think is most important about this story. Although fiction and seemingly far fetched, this deep, terrifying dive into the world of trauma is all too real. This story is something meant to be digested; it shouldn’t be skimmed or breezed through. This is a book about four lives. Willem, JB, Malcolm, & Jude- I loved them all even when I wanted to hate them, and feel like I will forever be thinking about them. Is that normal?
I absolutely love a novel that follows characters throughout their lives through long stretches of time. I love the exciting moments, the mundane moments, and even the heartbreaks. I know people often use the term “world building” when reviewing fantasy novels, but Yanagihara really accomplished that notion as well in A Little Life. I felt invested in and a part of the character’s lives, and the descriptive and atmospheric manner in which Yanagihara describes every scene brought me right into Jude and Willem’s makeshift living room on Lispenard Street. I felt that I was there in the worst, darkest moments as well.
I don’t know what else to say about this book, other than I loved it deeply, even though it ripped my heart out. This book means a lot to me in a number of different ways, and will definitely be in my thoughts for the long run. It feels silly to put a number to it, but this one gets 5 big, beautiful, sad stars from me.
Of course, 1 million trigger warnings for the worst possible things you can imagine. This book spares no details and is incredibly heavy.
A Little Life is available below!
My review of A Little Life is up on my Instagram, @murderino_reads, as well!