A Little Life

in the middle of somewhere
Title: A Little Life
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young Adult, MM Romance, Gay Literary Fiction
Page Count: 669
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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

In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.

This book is difficult to review.

I have a shelf on GR – great reading experience.

For a long time, since I added it, there was only one book. But after a while, one by one, I started to add other books to it, great books, books that I loved and that I also marked as my favorite read, but somehow I knew that it was not totally right, that was not the original reason for this shelf. A Little Life was kinda eye-opener for me. After I’d finished it, I re-ordered this shelf anew.

NOW I know, that this shelf probably WON’T have more than 3, 4 or 5 books. Because it is a place for something very, very special and unique. And when I say SPECIAL and UNIQUE, I don’t mean necessarily ENJOYABLE and PLEASURABLE, though, of course, the one is not excluding the other, but it is not what I meant.

We are all passionate readers, it is why we are here, on GR, it is why we exchange our opinions about books, it is why we write and read reviews. Because reading is a very important and essential part of our life. This book is a prove, an evidence for me, WHY I like reading so much.

Hanya Yanagihara is such a talented writer! Her writing is nothing compare with. To use her own words, she knows how to draw a dog. I don’t know what she does for a living, she could be an artist, an architect, a layer, a doctor or a psychiatrist. And if she does something else, then she did for sure a lot of research in these sectors to create the most real and the most authentic characters. (And I hope that this book will be considered as an obligatory book in the study of psychology.)

To tell that this book is a hard, difficult read is to say NOTHING. It’s a long book, and I wanted many times to put it down, to take a breath, and to stop reading it. BUT.I.JUST.COULDN’T.

I can express what this book did to me with a well-known quote – it didn’t break my heart, it took an AK-47 and blew my soul open. And it’s still bleeding. And I’m a mess.

I was crying non-stop while reading the last 12% (the most, really, the most…pages in my life) and I’m crying writing this “attempt-review”.

Yes. This book is painfully dark and disturbing, but in spite of many, many, many traumatic moments, it is, IN THE FIRST PLACE, a powerful, deeply intense, complex, unusual and AMAZING story about love and friendship, told in a way you won’t come across very often in your life, if at all.

This book is one of the most heart-wrenching, tragic, emotional and beautiful books I have ever read. And I LOVE EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF IT.

You can skip this book. I can understand it. But then you deprive yourself of a great, exceptional, significant but rewarding reading experience.

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Advanced Review Copy

ARC of A Little Life provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


A passionate reader from Germany. I learned to read at the age of 4 and never stopped since then, though my books from that time were very different from what they are now. English is my third language, and I’m sorry for all grammar mistakes I made in my reviews. But I assure you, that my reading English is much better than my writing English. I’m a seeker for the books that differ from mainstream, that provoke the reader or have very often very opposite ratings.

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