A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I wish I could give 10 stars on Goodreads. This book deserves far more than just 5 stars! This book has flown up to the top of my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS list! This one is definitely worthy of all of the hype it's received.
This is an amazing, searing, emotional, and devastating book. It's the kind of book that makes you sob. That tears at your heart and soul. That will stay with you. I read this over a month ago and I'm still thinking about it. The characters in this novel will stay with me for some time.
The story centers around a man, Jude, and his friends in NY. It's about the relationships between these people and how they love and hurt one another over time. It's about friendship, survival, tragedy and healing. Jude is a man who has been hurt in unimaginable ways and how that hurt impacts his life, his friendships and his work. If you are uncomfortable reading about child abuse or the impact of that abuse on adults, this is not the book for you. It's very raw and dark and difficult. It's not for everyone. I don't find it to be gratuitous as it really helps you to better understand the characters and their journeys. But, I would only read this one if you think you can read difficult material. The content can be, at times, very brutal. Be forewarned.
This was particularly impactful to me because I spent almost 10 years counseling domestic violence and sexual abuse survivors and this story is VERY close to the abuse one of the women that I counseled for years endured over her lifetime. This book did an amazing job of capturing what it's like to live through something so horrible as well as to care about someone who is trying to live with the lifelong affects of such abuse. I've heard folks complain that its not realistic to have endured what the character in this story does but if my work with abuse victims is any indication, I can tell you that some people do horrible things to other people - unimaginable things. And you'd be surprised how often and how much abuse victims are victimized in their lifetimes.
The characters in this novel will stay with me for some time. They are beautifully written, extremely real and just jump off the page. I came to care (and sometimes hate) them so much more than I would have expected. There were passages in this novel that literally took my breath away, made me think about things in new ways and just simply impacted me deeply. I kept re-reading some of them over and over again because they just perfectly stated something in a way that just overwhelmed me. This is one that I will re-read regularly. It's such a beautiful piece of writing and a story that just tore me up. In the way that the best novels tear you up.
I can't recommend this one highly enough. It's a truly amazing novel that just killed me ... I feel almost sad that I've finished it and will never read it again for the first time. It's difficult, heartbreaking, touching, beautiful and evocative! So worth reading ...