I am a huge fan of podcasts. Two of my favorites, “All the Books” and “Get Booked”, are produced by the site Book Riot. The hosts of both of these shows have talked incessantly, since it’s release, about Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. They talked about their love of the story, the amazing characters and the struggles they had to read anything else after they finished reading it. I tried and tried to get into the story but I couldn’t do it. It was depressing and frankly, super long. Every time I tried, I got discouraged and stopped.
A few months ago, I saw a friend reading the cliff notes version of A Little Life and posted about it on Facebook. I was amazed that there were cliff notes versions of adult books and excited that I could finally figure out what this book was all about without having to read it. As soon as I posted, people started commenting about their love of the book. All different kinds of people and all different kinds of readers. The discussion led to my inclusion in a new real life book club where every single member listed A Little Life as their favorite book. I decided that if I were to stay in the club, I really needed to make my way through the book.
I read and finished this 816 page book in just about two weeks during a very busy time. As I devoured the amazing writing, crazy plot, and memorable characters I kept wondering why this book hadn’t connected with me sooner. I’m still not sure but I do know I am glad I read it. There are scenes and characters that I still think about every day. The writing is some of the best I have read in years. I read the last one hundred pages in one sitting which is unusual for me but I got to a point where I just needed to know how it all ended.
All this said, I am hesitant to review A Little Life here. The story is dark. Really, really dark. There is abuse and self-harm and just about every other trigger filling every page. I feel like I need to talk individually to every person who chooses to read this book based on my recommendation because I want everyone to know what they are getting. But I also can’t not recommend it because I can’t stop thinking about it. Because in addition to all the sadness there is also amazing joy and love and the greatest depiction of friendship I think I have ever read.
On the surface, A Little Life follows four college friends through their adult lives. But it is so, so much more than that. I would love to hear from fellow readers about their reaction to this book. Please reach out so we can talk…
Have you read A Little Life? We’d love to hear what you think — please share in the comments below. Thanks!
Link to buy A Little Life at your local independent bookstore (we love them!) or at Indiebound by clicking here.