Monday, May 18, 2015

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

23165077Format: ebook

Pages: 669

Series: NA

Source: Library (OverDrive)

Genres: General Fiction, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication date: March 10th, 2015

: It took me a long time to sit down and write the review for this one. You see, it has been a long time since a book made me cry so much and so earnestly.

The book tells the story of 4 college friends: JB, Jude, Malcolm and Willem. We see them as time passes by, from their college dorm, through their careers and all that growing up might entail. They are not picture perfect characters, all with as much baggage as you can imagine (some more than others). All in need of love and friendship which, eventually is clear, can be the same thing.

First let's talk about the parts that weren't sad. The way the author presents their friendship, so full of flaws and hence so perfectly beautiful. The way Yanagihara shows the city of New York is also a thing of praise. You would think this city has been used so much that it cannot be shown with different eyes, and yet, the streets and the environments presented in A Little Life felt absolutely different for me. The mental picture of the city going in along with the feeling of whichever character we were listening too...and yes, I will say listening since their voices were so strongly jumping out of the pages into my head.

We could argue about whether there are four main characters or just two (some can even say that it's the story of Jude mostly) but for me their lives are so intertwined that I feel I could not answer to this argument. Their friendship, with so many ups and downs for the four of them, is at the end what carries all the emotions for me. It's the feelings between them: when they are happy, when they fight, when they I'm writing, flashes of the story keep coming back and my heart contracts once again. I cannot say how Yanagihara did this, but I can tell you that I know this book will be with me for a long time.

You might be scared of such a big book. I know I was. When I saw that it was almost 700 pages, and knowing ahead that there were a lot of heart crushing moments (it was impossible not to gather that from people talking about the book around me) I hesitated a bit, afraid the book would've been too much. But the truth is that Yanagihara's language is so absorbing I didn't notice the time passing by. It is not through big words that she does this, just very poignant, on point phrases that catch you and won't let you go.

It's not a happy book. Far from it. There are extremely happy moments in the story, that's for sure; moments that made me so happy that I chocked a bit with them. But the thing is that through the story you go so high and so low that sometimes I had to put the book down and force me to do something else, for it felt like too much to take.

Some people have pointed out that all these ups and downs, the intensity of every feeling depicted in the book is exaggerated, and I agree. They are heightened for sure. But in the world of the story they didn't felt out of place and I realize as I am writing this that it might not make sense for a lot of people, but it did for me. And that's why I gave it a full 5, because as a whole everything fitted for me which is also why it got me so hard.

At the same time I don't know who I would recommend this book to, just because knowing how I felt all through the reading, I feel awful telling someone to put themselves in the same position, even if I feel that it was worth it at the end. 

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