A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Whew…folks, this is a tough one. I’m not really even sure how to talk about this, which I understand is ridiculous because that’s kind of what this whole site is about but… what a fucking book. I think the only way for me to really do this is to just gush from this point forward. There are no mistakes, no critiques, no “I wish they’d done this better”. This is just going to be me slobbering all over the page about how much I loved this book. If that’s not your thing, feel free to wait for a few days until I post my next “I know that they actually did the thing that I’ve always talked about doing, but I wish they did it this way instead” review.

I can’t remember the last time I read something like this, (I’m not sure if I ever have), something that was this hard to read, this hard to put down, something that moved me so much. I received it as a gift the same week that two podcasting book lovers had recommended it (you should check out All The Books by Liberty Hardy and Rebecca Schinsky. Those women know of what they speak), so I took that as a sign from the great Book Gods that maybe I should bump it to the front of my ever-growing backlist of books to read, and I’ve basically done nothing else since then. I flaked on plans, skipped workouts, got vastly less sleep than I should have, all so I could keep being a part of this book, a part of these peoples lives. Because these are people, so real and so completely developed that I’m not entirely sure that Hanya Yanagihara (who writes men so well that I’d just assumed that she was a man, until I looked her up like an hour ago) didn’t just lift this story wholesale from her own life, although for her sake I hope she didn’t.

Or do I?

Despite how heartbreaking and difficult this book is, there’s such a beautiful love story at it’s core, so much kindness and tenderness and love, that I was never really sure if what I was reading was a tragedy. It’s certainly tragic at parts, sometimes so much so that it gets hard to bear, but I’m not sure if the tragedy is outweighed by all that good, or the other way around. They’re too wrapped up in one another, too complicated, for me to really decide. You’ll have to figure that out for yourself, I suppose.

So, I’m not really sure if this has been helpful at all in deciding whether you’d want to read it. I didn’t even really touch in on the story too much (I don’t like to do that very often. As a reader I enjoy going into things with as little foreknowledge as possible, so I’m assuming other people are the same), and I may have scared people off by mentioning how emotionally difficult of a read it is, but I want to be absolutely clear that this is not a slog. I hoovered it, gorged on it, couldn’t get enough of it. The prose is so captivating, the characters and their stories so engrossing, that even though this is a bit of a mammoth of a book (just over 800 pages), I was deeply disappointed nearing the end (and also, if I’m being honest, a bit relieved).

So, just to clear things up, READ THIS BOOK. I am recommending this book, as loudly and as frequently as I can, to everybody who will listen (while also mentioning that if you’re triggered by pretty much anything, enter into this one with caution). Buy this book, because this author deserves your money and support. Read it, because you deserve to experience it.

As always, with love,


3 thoughts on “A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Add yours

  1. I want to read this so much!!! Ugh I was hoping for a lukewarm review on it so I don’t buy it impulsively next time I see it in the bookstore. But oh well. Thanks for the review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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