Book Reviews

Book Review: A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is a book of epic proportions. 700 pages long and spanning over four decades, A Little Life is about the lives of four young men who meet in college and then move to New York to chase their dreams. There is Willem who is gentle, compassionate and wants to be an actor. JB is the tormented artist who can be a bit too self-involved and sometimes cruel. Malcolm, born into privilege, is a frustrated architect at a large corporate firm. And then there is Jude. Secretive, withdrawn, enigmatic and brilliant, he becomes a lawyer.

They navigate careers, successes and failures, drugs and alcohol, and the ups and downs of life. Amidst all this, it is Jude who is their biggest challenge. In spite of being a feared litigator, Jude is a broken man, his mind and body scarred by a childhood he refuses to speak about. He is haunted by his past which he believes will forever define him.

A Little Life is a book about life — the ups, the downs, sex, love, loss, betrayal and most importantly, friendship. In spite of its size, it is a book that keeps you hooked from the very  first chapter. As you navigate the lives of the characters, a sense of foreboding prevails. There is explicit detail about Jude’s coping mechanisms and their consequences — his methods of self-harm will make most readers cringe. The abuse endured at the hands of others is also quite explicit. And yet, it keeps you hooked. Yet, you cannot put the book down.

You want to know what happens. You want to know why. Yanagihara has done an excellent job in keeping the reader hooked. There are clues, little ones, along the way that foreshadow what is to come. Yet, there are some things you never see coming. It is a book that can rip you to the core, that will make you want to scream in agony and will make you want to read it late into the night or even during your lunch break. It isn’t excellent literary prose by any means. But it is a great story. And in this world of disconnection and suffering, while we may identify with Jude’s pain, it’s his friendships that we find solace in.

My rating:

Where to find it:

Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle

***Linking with Write Tribe for Day 1 of the Festival of Words No. 5 and Alicia for Open Slather***

Until next time,


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  • matheikal
    11 July 2016 at 2:07 am

    A good review that raises interest in the book

  • Esha
    11 July 2016 at 3:19 am

    Well written, Sanch! You know you’ve done a pretty good job of the review and your descriptions are too tempting me to grab a copy and start reading right away! I think a great story certainly merits a good read and this one holds a great promise it seems.

  • Alana
    11 July 2016 at 5:21 am

    Man Booker shortlist – you just know it has to be good! Its strange – when I was a teen I would have immediately picked up a 700 page book. Now, in my 60’s, it is almost like I have developed adult onset short attention span! But I may look out for this anyway, even if it takes me months to read.

  • C.TdeF
    11 July 2016 at 8:36 am

    I’m definitely interested in reading this after your review!
    C.TdeF recently posted…TortillasMy Profile

  • Obsessivemom
    11 July 2016 at 9:44 am

    Sounds like a great read. I like books with diverse characters such as this one.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Friendship lessonsMy Profile

  • Angel Stew & Devil's Brew
    11 July 2016 at 12:07 pm

    A great review Sanch. Definitely putting it on my list of “To Be Read.” Thanks!

  • alicia - One Mother Hen
    11 July 2016 at 4:53 pm

    You give such great reviews. This book sounds worth reading through all those pages!
    alicia – One Mother Hen recently posted…Eyes #fmy52weeksofmemoriesMy Profile

  • Sheethal
    11 July 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I usually tend to move away from Booker prize books. But this review looks very interesting. Definitely in the list now.

  • Subha Rajagopal
    12 July 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Seems to be a good read.Looking at the ‘Booker prize’ tag I felt apprehensive of the story,assuming it to be extremely heavy.But given your review,the book seems to be talking about friendship foremost.Looks interesting