Books,  Reviews

A Little Life

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Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A stunning “portrait of the enduring grace of friendship” (NPR) about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves. A masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century.

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST • WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE •

A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.

Synopsis source: Goodreads

What pattern is that?
Pictured with the book in this post is the Cozy Fireside Wrap, which you can find for free on my blog here.

Review

Genre(s): Literary Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQ
HB&W Rating: 3 stars
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble

I did it! I finally finished A Little Life! I started it at the end of April and have been all but 20% done with it since around mid-May, but just couldn’t push through to make it happen until last night. I’m not sure how I feel about it other than relieved it is over. Eek. 

On the one hand, it was a very well thought out character study on trauma and grief. On the other hand, it was so detailed that it was too much so frequently. It was incredibly moving and I cried in parts, but it moved so slowly I dreaded picking it up. I tried both audio and eyeballs, and honestly can’t say one was preferential over the other unless you count the fact that with the audio, you’re able to lose yourself in some mindless task while you listen, which did make it go quicker. Still, I played Libby chicken and lost, so the audio went back to the library and the borrow physical copy sat untouched for a long time.

It had always seemed to him a very plush kind of problem, a privilege, really, to consider whether life was meaningful or not.

The writing is touted as incredible and poetic, and it was at times, but it was also incredibly frustrating. There were some great lines and thought-provoking ones, but not as much as I’d have expected given the accolades it received for use of poetic language. There were so many characters to keep track of and, at first so many different POVs, it was hard to keep track of at time. So many characters in any given scene were male and instead of using names more frequently to know who was being talked about, the pronoun “he” was used too frequently and I found myself confused half the time at the beginning whose POV I had or who an anecdote was being told about. It didn’t occur to me until the last chapter that this might have been deliberate and maybe the author was trying to make a statement with that but but I was too distracted re-reading the passages to figure out what was going on that I didn’t pick up on it. I definitely think it was purposeful in Harold’s POV, but again, to what end? To show that Jude was the sun that his world revolved around? We’ already figured that out, so the added confusion just annoyed me.

The anecdotes and how the author fleshed out the characters lives was both natural and also another point of confusion to me. It was natural in the way they come up for us in real life often enough. We are in the middle of life, do something seemingly unrelated, then something makes us think of an older memory and we have a flash back, then when it’s over, we pick right back up where we left off in the present. It mimicked real life in that way but that too I found confusing. It made it harder to follow because it was less organized from a literary standpoint. 

Maybe my brain is too rational and linear to be able to read something like this because I just kept getting distracted by these things and it made me not want to finish it, and that would have been sad because the characters could have been real, they were drawn so well. I could understand each of their wants and desires, the successes and their frustrations, their worry and heartache. But ugh, I still can’t give it more than 3 stars. Don’t come for me. 

Until next time,

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