Penny For Our Thoughts

Traveling Sisters Book Reviews. Join us on our adventures through the books we read

A Little LifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read June 28-July 7, 2017

3.5 Stars

A Little Life was a slow and heavy read for me that I read in small amounts with other books in between as to not allow Jude to overcome my thoughts. It turned out to be the longest it’s taken me to read a book in a very long time.

A Little Life is an unsettling, dark, and harrowing story of the brutal physical and emotional lifelong suffering and trauma endured by Jude but also a beautiful story of love, compassion, and friendship.

Hanya Yangihara allows us to get to know Jude and his friends and I started to deeply care for Jude. She takes her time and carefully reveals pieces of his trauma piece by piece until it becomes endless and relentless, forcing us to see the horror Jude endured. We learn of his feelings of self-loathing, shame and self-worthlessness. Leaving me asking how much suffering can one character take and how much can I take.

There is some brilliance here as to how Hanya Yangihara shows no mercy in the relentless and endless suffering of Jude. At time showing no escape for it, wanting me to put down the book and skimming through the horrific scenes. This allowed me to see just because we can look away from someone suffering, it doesn’t mean it will go away.

There is some beauty here in the friendships and friends Jude has and in their fight to care for him, their compassion and their refusal to look away and give into Jude’s self-loathing. Compassion it not just something we feel it’s something we give. The most difficult kind of compassion is the kind that we refuse to look away from.

A Little Life left me conflicted with the brilliance of this story and the way it made me feel. As the story progressed I felt no hope, no resolution, no mercy for the suffering. I felt at time Yangihara stretched the suffering to the point I was exhausted from reading so much of it. This, after all, was purely fiction with no research or a study on trauma or the effects of trauma. She left me feeling there was no hope, there was nothing that could be done to help, including therapy and that is just not something I can believe in.   In the end, I looked at Jude as a concept for a story and not a believable character. Based on how this story made me feel, I rate it 3.5.

View all my reviews

5 thoughts on “Brenda’s Thoughts: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

  1. Christine says:

    Wow, heavy duty, Brenda. I have this on my list and keep waiting for the right time to read it. Wonder if that time will ever come…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. B's coulee says:

    Hi Christine. Time on this on could be tricky. I also think being prepared for the heavy helps too. There really was some beauty and brilliance to this story and that did take away a bit from the heavy. For me it was all I could focus on. I hope timing works for you and you like it more than I did!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. theartdive says:

    Amazon had a Kindle Daily Deal today for this book, so, having read a review, I bought it. Now, after your review, I really wonder what the book is like!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. B's coulee says:

      I had to take a look right away to see the deals on Amazon! They are some great ones. Thanks for that tip. I am glad my review has you wondering. It really had me torn with the way I felt about it and it was a hard one for me to rate and review. I read it on my own and it would have been great to have someone to chat about it with. I am not sure if many people would feel the same way I did about it. I am curious to know what you think and would love to read your review. Please pop back and let me know!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. theartdive says:

        Okay 🙂 And yes, they had some really nice deals on Kindle today 🙂


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