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Hanya Yanagihara – A Little Life

Posted in Book reviews, and Fiction

Every book in my shelf has its own story, the reason why it has won its place there. A Little Life has quite boring one: I bought two books and liked neither of them. So I went to the bookstore to search for another one, thick enough (yes, I’m in the club of people who like big books and can not lie). It caught my attention thanks to its simple cover. Later on, I realized how much it worked with the book’s content, where stairs are not only an element difficult to climb up, or helpful medium to escape the danger. It becomes also a symbol of self/destruction.

A Little Life is devided into 7 sections, each of them referring to different parts of main character’s, Jude’s, life.
Hanya Yanagihara did a good job with decriptions of friendships most of us went through: some friends are friends for life, some are too unstable to keep, another ones teach us how life has prepared different fates for every one of us. It was lovely to read, until it became a little cliché.

The thing I recognize higly important, is revealing to public sexual abusive relationships. Unfortunately there are still many people, no matter their gender/age/origin/status, who are sexually abused, and are carrying their physical and psychological suffering throughout their entire life. A Little Life goes even further, and touches topic of religious abuse in form of beatings and manipulating with kids, ending up traumatised, reliant on their abusers and planted beliefs.

This book also brings to light the fluidity of human sexuality. Yanagihara is not afraid to mention gay relationships without any drama around it, and also opens so needed discussion about the inflexible definition of sexual orientation.

But to be honest, A Little Life is a book full of “What the?!“ and “What did I just read?“. In general, I consider it as a good sign when I need to put my book down to breath out, to process the information. However, this time it felt actually neccessary, because my heart skipped its beat with every description of Jude’s past. I never experienced a book playing such a strong game with my brain – I KNEW something was terribly wrong with his “previous“ life. But I caught myself pretending, trying to convince myself that it couldn’t be THAT bad. Typical example of human naivity and ability to keep ourselves from the painful truth when we feel like it.

On the other hand, I have to admit that for a book, simple fiction, it seemed to me in some parts exaggerative. Again another person did this? Again this situation has occured? It made me wonder why has Hanya decided to let main character go through so much. There are situations, like with Dr. Tyler, which could be untold, and it wouldn’t have changed our pity for Jude.
The end is very predictable, but readers have to wait for it way too many pages which are, in my opinion, full of unneccessary and boring details.

To summarize, I loved this book until its middle, and then I just couldn’t wait to have it finished. What a pity.

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