Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

littlelifes

I was very excited to finally start reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which I had purchased last May and had somehow never read. I was definitely wary of reading another 800 page book after finishing Alexander Hamilton. I was afraid this book wouldn’t be as compulsively readable as I’d heard, and I didn’t want to have to drag myself through to the end. However, this book grabbed my attention from page 1 and held onto it for the rest of the story. The sentences flow easily, and are beautifully written, making this novel a joy to read.

A Little Life is about the lives and evolving friendship of four college roommates (Malcolm, JB, Jude and Willem) as they grow up in New York City. The novel tells the story of how their friendship morphs with each passing decade, focusing on Jude, who holds the group of friends together as they struggle to protect and care for him.

Jude has a mysterious and troubled past, which is revealed as the novel goes on. Many of the events in his past are violent and heartbreaking, lending a somber tone to much of the novel. Yanagihara deftly handles the touchy subjects brought up by Jude’s past, while weaving in moments of happiness that give the story energy and help it remain readable.

Yanagihara creates real characters, who are unlikable at times, but remain true to their personalities as they go through the trials of their lives. The way Yanagihara creates characters, and the social circles they inhabit is very realistic, allowing the reader to step into the version of New York City she creates. This story is a beautifully written glimpse into another life , letting us experience the hardship, joy and sadness of the lives of others.

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