Thursday, October 6, 2016

"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara

It's been a while since I finished this book and I still don't know how to wrap my head around it or put into words my exact feelings about it. Luckily, many many others have tried.

On its face, it's the story of four friends living in New York City. It follows them through life and love as they grow and their relationships change. But centrally, it's the story of Jude St. Francis, a man with a horrific past who has nonetheless grown to find three devoted, loving friends. I will quibble with those, including the author, who describe this as a book of male friendship. That's certainly a theme, but it's a love story at its heart, and an exploration of how to love someone who doesn't know how to accept it. 

Haunting and beautiful and gripping and tragic. There are so many words for this book and they're all still inadequate. Yanagihara has a gift for describing the most traumatic, grotesque, staggeringly painful events in beautiful prose. Even when the events are too much to bear, the beauty of the prose pushes you on to the next page and the next. 

Verdict: Affirmed. I can't recommend this book highly enough, but I also want to warn that the subject matter is heartbreaking and tragic.

"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara, published March 10, 2015 by Doubleday.

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