A Little Life revolves around four classmates from a small Massachusetts college who move to New York to make their way; they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition.
This book is a lot. You really have to be in the right frame of mind when going into it because it is heavy and it is at times difficult to read. I would definitely look into any trigger warnings before starting this book! I am not a reader who has any problem reading heavier themes and tones within books and I don’t get triggered by any content I read but I can definitely see how this book could affect someone who does.
Jude bless him broke my heart in this book. I’ve heard quite a number of people describe his story as torture porn and they are just unable to fathom how so much abuse and trauma one person could endure in their lifetime and in reality people go through these things every day. I think Hanya Yanigahara did an excellent job thoroughly developing Jude’s character and showing the reader how he has managed to cope after suffering for so many years and the hold that these memories have over his life. I in no way can relate to anything that he has endured but the fact that he did make something of himself and the way he touched so many people’s lives and developed all these friendships was inspiring to read.
Willem was one of my favourite characters. At times I felt like he found himself quite helpless to Jude’s suffering but the fact that he was always a constant in his life was a reassurance in of itself. He had his own demons that he has had to deal with after his brother’s death and struggling to secure any acting gigs after college, second guessing himself and having doubts before eventually going on to find fame. The one thing I loved about him was that he never changed after becoming famous; he remained humble and loyal and was a great friend to everyone around him.
It was quite a slow burn of a book. The first third was really all about developing the many characters we are introduced to and establishing their relationships. Each character served a purpose and had a high impact on the story and Jude’s life. JB and Malcolm were a nice contrast to Jude and Willem, they were quite rambunctious and lively as opposed the seriousness the other two evoke. I loved the underlying theme of friendship and loyalty and they display that various times throughout the novel.
I was unsure of my feelings after finishing the book. I had just gone on this rollercoaster ride of emotions and there were many scenes that left me in tears yet it felt like we had come full circle. I don’t think after Willem’s death that Jude would be able to survive and I found it quite admirable that he was able to continue on for so long after that. I definitely think Andy, Harold and Julie did the best they could given the circumstances and had they not been in Jude’s life he wouldn’t have made it as far as he did.
⭐️5/5 stars one of the most heartbreaking, emotional books I’ve ever read!