Oh, hello, there. Please do excuse the silence. I fell down a rabbit hole. A rabbit hole called A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
There’s not much I can add to what has already been written about this book.
“This new book is long, page-turny, deeply moving, sometimes excessive, but always packed with the weight of a genuineexperience. As I was reading, I literally dreamed about it every night.”
From The New Yorker:
“Yanagihara’s novel can also drive you mad, consume you, and take over your life. Like the axiom of equality, “A Little Life” feels elemental, irreducible—and, dark and disturbing though it is, there is beauty in it.”
From Los Angeles Times:
“I’ve read a lot of emotionally taxing books in my time, but “A Little Life,” Hanya Yanagihara’s follow-up to 2013’s brilliant, harrowing “The People in the Trees,” is the only one I’ve read as an adult that’s left me sobbing. I became so invested in the characters and their lives that I almost felt unqualified to review this book objectively.”
I borrowed this book from the library and spent the full 21 day check-out period reading it. I had moments where I’d devour 100 – 200 pages at a time. Then I’d also go through days where I’d carry the book with me from room-to-room in the house, intending to read it, but leaving it closed, as though I knew I needed a break from it. It was as though I needed some recovery time before diving back in to one of the most moving, heartbreaking books I’ve ever read.
At 700 pages, this was by no means a fast read for me, but it was completely engaging. As I got to know the main character, Jude St. Francis, I grew to care for him as though he were a friend of mine. That made his experiences of intense abuse as a child at the hands of adults who were supposed to care for and protect him, as well as his episodes of self-harming, a tactic one of the adults in his life taught him, all the more traumatizing to read. Jude, despite his devastating childhood, grew to build a life for himself that, from the outside, seemed successful and happy. He had a job that he enjoyed and excelled at, friends who love him, a partner he could trust, and even a family who adopted him as an adult. Though, as and adult, he had all the beauty and love in his life he craved as a child, he couldn’t forget his past and what he thought his past made him. He was tortured, convinced he was hopeless and undeserving, and it was this kind of thinking that imprisoned him and held him captive as an adult.
This book was intense, and had the power to completely shift my mood from happy and content to melancholy. However, I’m so glad I read this book, and it won’t be a book I’ll forget.