Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


TITLE: A Little Life
AUTHOR: Hanya Yanagihara


What's the story all about


When four classmates 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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.

©Goodreads: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

About the author


“Hanya Yanagihara lives in New York City. She was born in LA but had a peripatetic childhood, her father, a doctor, being restless and constantly on the move, first to Hawaii, then New York, Baltimore, California and Texas. She now lives in Manhattan. She worked for several years as editor-at-large of Condé Nast’s Traveller magazine and is currently an editor at the New York Times style magazine T.

Her first novel was published in 2013, entitled The People in the Trees. The novel was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction 2014.

And her latest novel which was published last year (2015), A Little Life, was longlisted for last year’s Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.

©Goodreads: Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara; Foyles Interview

What do i think

Wow. Just WOW.

I don’t know how will I be able to describe all the emotions I have felt when I read this book. But I’ll try, LOL


“He sits at the table and reads novels, old favorites of his, the words and plots and characters comforting and lived-in and unchanged.”

Everything about A Little Life is exceptional. It is beautiful, heart-wrenching, agonizing, and it can definitely change your views and perceptions about the life itself.
And if you’d like to experience a different kind of pain, and sorrow, this one is good for you. BUT, if you’re not into explicit, self-harm and depressing stories, I don’t know if this is the right book for you.

When I read A Little Life, it felt like I was in distress. I read a lot of reviews and praises about this book, and I heard some comments from friends that ‘ALL’ will truly split your heart in two. And yes, they were right. This book hurt me in so many ways. I have also watched some rants and book discussions on Youtube, that they didn’t like this book at all because it’s boring, dull, or whatsoever, but, there are also some points that I agree with them and I’ll discuss it BELOW. 🙂


“Let me introduce PAIN

This book narrates the life and friendship of four people (Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm). Each of them has a distinct character, attitude, and talent. You’ll get to know more about them as you go on deeper with the story. But, even if it talks about these four individuals, it was mainly focused on Jude’s life, his dark and obscured past that still haunts him up to present, and he’s been trying to escape from it.

Pros and Cons

I started reading this last January 2016, but I stopped when I reached the first part, because I thought that I would get nowhere if I continue reading this. One of my best friends, (who happens to be a bookworm and one who loves pain so much LOL), kept on insisting me to finish this book. Then I get curious, I started reading it all over again this June. From then on, I couldn’t stop and as I delved into the story, I get to know more about them. I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters, and it felt like I was connected to them. Maybe, one thing that I didn’t like about this book was the FLOW of the story line. Because at some point, I was into this confusion stage, where I was baffled about who-is-this-person-talking-in-this-particular-chapter and what-is-going-on-right-now moments. Well, that’s just one thing I don’t like at all, the rest is great for me. ♥

“It’s a good story,’ he said. He even grinned at me. ‘I’ll tell you.’ 

‘Please,’ I said.  

And then he did.”

As what I’ve mentioned earlier, (that ALL will truly split your heart in two) this book is totally depressing and it would drain out the happiness inside of you until all you can feel is nothing but emotional suffering. It seems like all the painful things that can happen to a person is already here. Emotional and physical abuse, broken friendships, wretched relationships, shattered life, unexpected deaths, especially self-harm, were the certain topics found in this book. This isn’t a light novel, (this isn’t a light read after all), because there are some parts where dreadful stories are being told. 😦

However, I enjoyed reading this. (Just to be clear, I’m not a masochist or whatever you call it) it’s just that, the way the story was delivered is great and I kept on crying over words that was written beautifully, as it touches my heart. AND I am so proud of myself because finally, I’m through with this book. I thought I wasn’t able to finish this, because it IS definitely a LONG story (when I say long, you have to believe me). It will take you days, weeks, or even a month when you start reading it (for me, it took me 2 weeks and I’m not reading anything else aside from ALL). As what I have mentioned earlier, this isn’t a light book, and this isn’t an easy one. It is a kind of book that you have to focus on and invest some of your time for it. As for my experience, I read this slowly (but surely) in order for me to fully understand every character, every word, every story that were being narrated. There are times when I just don’t want to read it at all, because some parts were just so devastating.

“’I can do other things in life besides cry, you know,’ although he was no longer sure that was even true.”

BUT don’t be afraid! (of pain? LOL)

Because it isn’t just heartache and sadness that you will experience from this book. A Little Life will also inspire you (the way it inspired me), you will also feel happy at some parts where great and sweet moments happen for the characters who has been through enough of struggles in life, and you’ll feel joy for them because they truly deserve it. When I got over to the last page of this book, I couldn’t stop crying. I just love it when a book made me feel a lot of things, that it moved me so much. I don’t know when or how am I suppose to move on. These characters will be in my memory and in my heart forever.

This book can traumatize anyone (it depends on people). Still, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to everyone. You’ll learn a lot of things from this book, may it be about love, friendships, family, about oneself, or just making the right the decisions. I like it, I love it, and THIS is my new favorite.
FIVE HEARTS, indeed!

“And so I try to be kind to everything I see, and in everything I see, I see him.”


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