A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015
"A singularly profound and moving work . . . It's not often that you read a book of this length and find yourself thinking 'I wish it was longer,' but Yanagihara takes you so deeply into the lives and minds of these characters that you struggle to leave them behind." - Fiona Wilson, The Times
"A Little Life makes for near-hypnotically compelling reading, a vivid, hyperreal portrait of human existence that demands intense emotional investment . . . An astonishing achievement: a novel of grand drama and sentiment." - Independent
"Utterly compelling...quite an extraordinary novel. It is impossible to put down... And it is almost impossible to forget. - Mernie Gilmore, Daily Express
"[A] wholly immersive unforgettable read . . . You won't stop reading. And it's a novel that changes you." - Evening Standard
From the back of the book:
When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.
Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he'll not only be unable to overcome but that will define his life forever.
My Review: 5/5 stars
This a long book and is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely dark and disturbing at times, and almost over the top in some of its traumatic details. However, it is also gripping and immediately makes you feel emotionally invested in the main character Jude and those that orbit around him. I cried so many times in this novel from joy and sadness.
Although this was a long novel, the author kept the reader interested by weaving different timelines together and giving us insight into the psyche of how Jude became a victim. The detail of how a young boy was traumatised and groomed over time and then conflicting feelings of guilt he had throughout his life provided interesting insight.
I loved the depictions of the selflessness of Willem and his utter devotion to Jude. I sobbed happy tears when Jude was adopted and was devastated for him when Willem died. I cared so much about the character that I was angry the author did this to us readers who were so emotionally invested in his well-being! There were very interesting themes for our book club discussions - positive topics like overcoming trauma and finding unconditional love, but also really difficult themes like suicide, assisted suicide and the responsibility of health care professionals.
This really is one of these books that will stay with me for a long time.