Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara

[Katie Noble | Entertainment Editor]

After publishing my top picks of the Man Booker nominees, I thought it would be handy to publish a proper review for the only entry on the list that I had actually read. I actually finished reading A Little Life over a week ago, after a tiring month-long slog.

A Little Life is a true epic following a group of friends from college, up until old age. We experience life along with them, including their successes and their ultimate downfalls.

The phrase ’emotional rollercoaster’ was no doubt coined for this novel. It is a journey that the reader must undertake along with its characters. And thankfully, these characters are intense, fully fleshed-out, and very much real to life. However, I was uncertain as to whether I could always say this in regards to their experiences – more specifically, Jude’s experiences.

 

A Little Life - Picador

A Little Life features incredibly hard-hitting and devastating aspects of sexual abuse, and although impactful, the constant repetition and increasing outrageousness of these experiences sometimes left me feeling cold. Perhaps this was intentional, as a commentary on how we, as a species, have become mostly desensitised to such travesty. Be sure to note that this book carries trigger warnings for almost all kinds of abuse, outward and inward.

One of my main praises for this novel is that it deals with identity and sexuality incredibly well. Many of the characters’ cultural backgrounds are ambiguous and their sexuality is very much just something that is. Yanagihara’s characters are colourful, rich, and diverse without even trying. Similar to real life, a lot of the characters are fluid and without explanation for a lot of their dealings with sexuality. I really appreciated this. Furthermore, I like how this book dealt with a queer relationship in its later years, rather than your typical ‘sexual awakening’ or ‘first love’ trope.

Overall, I did not love this book as much as many other readers and I don’t consider it perfect,  but I am sure that I will be thinking about it for a long time, especially as it was the first book that managed to bring me just short of tears.

Received for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara