ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
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WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE
A MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST
A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A Little Life will stun you and break your heart. After graduating from an elite university, four young men navigate the ambitions and distractions of life in New York City. Hanya Yanagihara slowly fills out the outlines of her characters: Malcolm, JB, Willem and Jude; and the effect is like watching a gifted painter toil over a complicated canvas. As this dense novel zeroes in on Jude and his horrific upbringing, we experience an overwhelming desire to step into the story and comfort the brilliant, quietly suffering lawyer, to counteract the unfathomable cruelties he’s endured. That’s how lifelike this novel is, and how exceptionally powerful.
Yanagihara follows her 2013 debut novel, The People in the Trees, with an epic American tragedy. The story begins with four college friends moving to New York City to begin their careers: architect Malcolm, artist JB, actor Willem, and lawyer Jude. Early on, their concerns are money and job related as they try to find footholds in their respective fields. Over the course of the book, which spans three decades, we witness their highs and lows as they face addiction, deception, and abuse, and their relationships falter and strengthen. The focus narrows as the story unspools and really, this is Jude's story. Unlike his friends, who have largely ordinary lives, Jude has a horrific trauma in his past, and his inner demons are central to the story. Throughout the years, Jude struggles to keep his terrible childhood secret and to trust those who love him. He cuts himself and contemplates suicide, even as his career flourishes and his friends support him. This is a novel that values the everyday over the extraordinary, the push and pull of human relationships and the book's effect is cumulative. There is real pleasure in following characters over such a long period, as they react to setbacks and successes, and, in some cases, change. By the time the characters reach their 50s and the story arrives at its moving conclusion, readers will be attached and find them very hard to forget.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The type of book you put down and go, "f--k..."
In short, 'A Little Life' is a complete masterpiece - a must-read. It's the type of book where, when you finish, you need to take a few weeks before starting a new book so you can digest the expansive story you've just ingested.
The story spans across the course of almost 50 years, many times about everyday "mundane" days, but never once feels tedious to read. The characters are so real, so painfully humanly flawed and beautifully portrayed, I often found myself having a hard time reading through my tears. You will feel Jude, Willem, JB and Malcom's every joy and sorrow, their agonies and their successes - you've probably asked yourself all the same life questions the characters do. This book is not for the faint of heart (it often feels as though you are really friends with the characters and want to shake them out of the book) but it is entirely worth every moment.
The title perfectly encapsulates the overall book - one life, to that person, can seem so small, and yet the ripples of how they affect the world around them are immense.
Thank you for this gift to the world.
This story will stick with me for a long time
I stumbled upon this book title by accidentally (possibly a blog). I decided to buy it because the cover artwork (the man in pain) was distinctly heart wrenching and intriguing. I’m so glad I made the decision to take a leap into this story
I don’t want to spoil anything but don’t be put off by the number of pages. The writing is grand but in a way that makes you want to continue the journey. The characters are so full of life and heartbreak and there were many moments where I had to pause and take breaks
I’m certain I will come back to this book in a few years because it’s such a great reminder of what it means to have humanity and truly “feel”
One of the most impactful reads I have ever enjoyed. I have never read a book with such intricate, creative and robust character development.