When I first initially told people I had started reading A Little Life, I received so many comments and direct messages telling me this book either broke them or they had thrown it across the room once they finished it. Such strong opinions only intensified my curiosity for this book, by the time I finished Part One, I was hooked.
This book starts off fun and sweet, then sharply takes a turn, and you beginning to question what went wrong and what’s going on. Then, you’re trapped in misery as you follow along the suffering of one man. Sounds terrible, I know. Why would you wanna read something miserable. Well, because as much misery as there is, there is also much hope in this book. After I finished reading this, I reflected back on how I reacted to characters and events. Somehow this book was powerful enough to change me, gave me the desire to change the bad qualities in me that out-weight the good ones.
This book will remain with me for a long time, and I do see myself rereading it, again.
Now, as much as I did love this book, I acknowledge that there were things about it I simply didn’t. However, I will first list and explain those I did like:
Hanya Yanagihara’s writing was so smooth that I would get so sucked into the book’s world and forget myself. I normally read in coffee shops now, and I would start crying while reading this, forgetting I was in public. Yanagihara’s writing would get so sentimental without it ever being mushy or dramatic, though some events in the book may get well melodramatic. Also, just the way Yanagihara sets up the book is perfect, the going back to the past and forward again, planting scenes and giving enough information to keep you intrigued without fully giving you everything, for the big reveal toward the middle, even then leaving things out. So well planned. Wow.
Friendship and Love
The strength in the love that the main characters all have for each other. This is one of the things that I reflected a lot on, especially within my own character. I am not the most affectionate nor the most patient. Therefore, in the beginning of this book I was easily irritated with Jude’s stubbornness to accept the unfailing love and kindness he is given and often times even found myself calling him selfish. Once I got deeper in the book, I began to feel guilty, for judging Jude so harshly, so quickly. This I knew was a character flaw of mine, one I often yield to in my personal life. I knew I needed to be more understanding, patient, and forgiving in order to truly give love or kindness to someone for I may not know what hardships and suffering they may have gone through. I know theres a quote out there that signifies this but not until now do I truly understand what that means. Anyway, many people try and never give up trying to help and support Jude out of love for him, and even though he rejects their help most of the time, they persist. That’s the power of love, I realized. Also, only those that reciprote that love are the ones who deserve it from you.
Now, the things I didn’t like…
Lack of Women
Now, I suspect this was Yanagihara’s intention, so there could be a focus on the many relationships between men, but it felt strange and unrealistic that not many women were present in a significant way, even Julia’s presence, which is significant in Jude’s life, wasn’t written as if she was.
The Fantasy-like World
Sometimes I found it hard to believe some of the stuff that was happening. For instance the success of all the four friends or how Jude happens to be a prodigny in everything. It sometimes felt too far-fetched. The reason this didn’t sway me too far from liking this book was that I understand this is a work of fiction. It doesn’t have to play into reality, per se. This book had a purpose and it needed things to happen a certain way to get that purpose out.
So, there overall I liked this book. The main reason I do is because it taught me more about being compassionate and empathic.
If anyone wants to discuss more about this, feel free to comment. I would be happy to.