Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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Sometime early last year my friend Amy urged me to read A Little Life, having just recently read it herself. Describing it as life changing and heart-breaking, whilst assuring me it was a book that she wholeheartedly thought everyone should read, I must admit I was intrigued. However, after discovering it was 720 pages long I was put off and I spent the next few months putting my copy to one side, assuring myself and Amy that I would get to it soon.

So, having now read it I know that Amy was very accurate in her description of the novel and my only regret now is that I didn’t read it sooner.

A tale of love and friendship, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life will move you beyond belief.

A Little Life: Plot Synopsis

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


When four classmates 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, 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.

My thoughts on A Little Life:

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

I think I will now forever live in hope that I may stumble across a book even half as good as A Little Life is.

Admittedly quite slow to begin with (it took me a good 100 pages to really get into it), I can now see that the slow introduction to the four main characters is crucial to building the story. A story that tells the tale of little more than life itself and that revolves around four of the most wholly developed characters of any book I’ve ever read; I felt truly happy when they did and, likewise, felt dreadfully sad alongside them too in a way that I never have done whilst reading a book before. It would plaster a smile across my face before leaving me sobbing uncontrollably with the turn of a page, the definition of an emotional rollercoaster but in the best kind of way.

And although not much really happens, it had me gripped right until the end – a testament on its own for a book as long as this one. Rather than being a book focused on events, it is focused on the people within it which turns it into a book that is about life itself, with all of its wonderful moments, and its hardships.

So, having turned the final page this week I can now say with certainty that Amy was correct and that this really is a book that everyone should read. It’s an investment of your time but it’s worth every second you dedicate to it.

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Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Book review of Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life


I'm Shannon. Welcome to Tales from the Country, a countryside lifestyle blog for those who dream of escaping the hustle and bustle of life and about embracing all that comes from living in the British countryside.

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