Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 720
View on Goodreads | Buy from Bookwitty



Four classmates from college move to New York to make their way. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Let me start by saying this is one of the best books I have ever read and was without a doubt the most painful and unbelievably heartbreaking book I have ever read.
It was an epic story of life, friendship, pain, suffering, hopes and dreams. I can’t even put into words what this book did to me.
One thing I loved about this book was the way it was told, for a start. I really enjoyed how memories were continually woven into the story and the current timeline. This meant as I was getting to know the characters as they were at that time; I was also being told about the memories which made them who they were – in particular for Jude. This made me feel so connected to the characters and make me care about them deeply.

This book was at times very difficult to read and I found myself at certain points, having to take a break to process what I was reading and to try and deal with it. It was graphic and traumatic to the point that I struggled to go on. Another reason why it was so difficult to read at those times was because the characters were so real and so important by then.

This story could have ended at so many points and been left to make the reader wonder what happened, as most novels do, but I loved the fact that it was told right to the end. It really was a life in a book. That made it so much more impactful and I already know this book will have leave a long lasting imprint on me.

This book was about Jude, JB, Willem and Malcom but essentially it was about Jude. Jude St Francis. The other characters were so important because they were important to Jude and they showed us the impact they had on Jude and vice versa. Another thing I loved about this book was that it gave us details about the others’ lives even though it was predominantly about Jude. It gave an insight into their minds so that we could see Jude through other peoples’ perspectives to show how contrasting it was to his view of his own self. This was crucial to the story.

I could really talk about this book for days. By the 30th page, I already felt an attachment to the characters. By the 100th page, I had already shed a tear. This book was an emotional rollercoaster and I would be lying if I said it didn’t have me sobbing uncontrollably like a complete mess. I literally continuously cried my way through the last 100 pages, if not more.

Part of me is hesitant to recommend this book, despite its undoubted amazingness, because it was unimaginably intense and painful. If you like that kind of book (like me) then please, do read it. If not, then be very cautious. Warning: I LOVED this book but you might hate it. It’s definitely not for everyone.

To sum up: this book left me devastated in the most beautiful way. I miss the characters terribly and I know I will suffer a severe book hangover from this. I’ll also be honest and admit that I’m partly devastated because I’m worried that no book will ever devastate me to the same level that this book did, and that makes me sad. I know, I’m weird.

Rating: 1000/10



  1. This book sounds so interesting! I haven’t read a book in a while that has made me feel like I’ve gone through an emotional roller coaster so I’ll definitely read it! Loved the review x

    Liked by 1 person

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