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A Little Life

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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  126,047 Ratings  ·  20,122 Reviews
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, b ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 720 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Doubleday
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Demis I feel the author deliberately kept the years ambiguous, wiping each chapter clean of all traces of any defining cultural / technological landmarks…moreI feel the author deliberately kept the years ambiguous, wiping each chapter clean of all traces of any defining cultural / technological landmarks that would place a scene in a particular year. The entire story exists in a time that feels a lot like now (or now-ish) as a result - felt like a very deliberate ambiguity, and another of the things that gave the book a rather unique vibe. Perhaps the point is the time isn't important - keeps the focus on the characters, and the idea that the issues dealt with were timeless.(less)
Tawny Tayor, there were a couple of times I had to put the book down and pick up something else because of the horror of what was happening. But I always…moreTayor, there were a couple of times I had to put the book down and pick up something else because of the horror of what was happening. But I always came back to it and saw it through to the end. If you don't want graphic, this is not the book for you. Having said that, I don't think the book would have been nearly as touching, nor would I have cared so deeply about the characters, without every detail.(less)

Community Reviews

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Michael Flick
Jun 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: worst
Some believe that this is “The Great Gay Novel.” That couldn’t be more wrong. There are only two recognizable gay men in this work, JB and Caleb. A creative queen and a violent, probably psychopathic, sadist. All the other “possibilities” are pedophiles (categorically not gay—that’s a sickness, an evil, that has nothing to do with being gay) or so hopelessly confused (and impotent) that you can’t know what they are (JB and Willem). The take on gay men here is antediluvian—a dangerous and discred ...more
Glenn Sumi
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it
5 THINGS I LIKED ABOUT A LITTLE LIFE
(AND 5 THINGS I DIDN'T)


Everyone’s talking about Hanya Yanagihara’s Booker- and National Book Award-nominated blockbuster novel. There are lots of 5 star raves on this site. Many people are saying it’s one of the most incredible books they’ve ever read. I hate to be the outlier or considered cold-hearted (I’m not! I cry over books and movies ALL THE TIME!!!). The book took me just under 2 weeks to finish, and I’m glad I read it. I liked it, I really liked it! B
...more
Emily May
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2015
A Little Life is a strong contender for the award for the most depressing book I've ever read. I swear I'm not even exaggerating.

At this point, I'm not certain whether this is a positive or negative review. There's no doubt that this book is beautifully-written and contains some of the most raw and honest prose I've ever had the pleasure or misfortune of reading, but it's a long very long character study - over 700 pages of misery, substance abuse, self-harm, sexual and psychological abuse (and
...more
Jessica Woodbury
It may sound presumptuous to say in January that I've read the best book I've read all year, but reading is a lot like love. Sometimes you just know.

A LITTLE LIFE is a title with 3 meanings. First, it refers to its protagonist, Jude, a man who cannot ever accept that his life is worthwhile. Second, it refers to the act of reading it, spending time in this book is really like living a version of life.

There is a third meaning, one that you don't discover until around halfway through the book when
...more
Maxwell
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, i-own-it
I can't, with a clear conscience, give this book anything less than 5 stars. It's a book that kept me reading long into the night, made me turn each page with vigor and curiosity, gave me chills and shivers over the joys and sorrows of each character, and ultimately left me feeling a bit older and tortured and yet at peace with the deeply complicated nature of humanity.

What Hanya Yanagihara does with A Little Life is nothing nearly as pretentious as that paragraph above. Somehow in 720 pages, s
...more
Thomas
I slept with this book after I read it. I kid you not: I held its bulking, hardcover bound 700 pages in my arms as I fell asleep amid a raging storm. I refused to let A Little Life leave me. Its brilliant writing, its broken characters, and its bleak, unforgiving story dug into my heart, into the very pores of my skin. As a twenty-year-old, I felt both so young and so old upon finishing this novel, as if its sheer humanity aged my soul while making me appreciate all the years I still have left.

A
...more
Roxane
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, devastating, heartbreaking. Fucking hatefully sad at times. There are places that are overwrought and overwritten but this is an amazing, engrossing novel. Just wow.
Estelle
Mar 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hate-list
Brace yourself for the most melodramatic, pretentious, dull, dumb, overwritten, repetitive, laughable, cringe-inducing, self-indulgent, unbelievable, stereotypical, voyeuristic, contrived piece of fiction.


After pushing through and trying to motivate myself to finish this book just to see if there's more to it or some kind of message there... I'm putting this book down for good.
90% in. Normally, I would have kept going just to find out what happens to the characters, but honestly I care so litt
...more
Alexander Patino
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You get a first read only once. I don't know what to say. It's the book of my life. Not that it mirrors my life, but that it's the literary love of my life. I know I get hyperbolic about this kind of stuff, but it is what it is. The most cathartic reading experience I've ever had. I'm shaking and crying writing this. How to move on after this one - hard to imagine I will.
Victoria Schwab
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jesus Christ.
I cried for an HOUR last night.
This freaking book.
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
Mar 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Note: I received an ebook copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.

Around page 150 of Hanya Yanagihara’s second novel, A Little Life, which follows four friends from their college years into their fifties, I wrote the following in my notes:

I am more excited about Hanya Yanagihara and her work and her career than I have been about any author in a really long time.

Around page 200 I wrote this:

Is Jude’s suffering perhaps a tad overwrought? It is starting to seem like everything
...more
Mischenko
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Please visit my blog www.readrantrockandroll.com to see this review and others.

I decided to spend some of my weekend, which turned out to be all day today, catching up on some reading. I started A Little Life sometime in January, but had to put it down a few times due to time restrictions on other books. Plus, this book is colossal. It's a smidge over 700 pages.

I'll start by saying that I can't recollect the last time I felt so connected to characters in a story. I was so consumed with the fou
...more
Ashley
Fuck this book.

And it started out so well! The writing is actually gorgeous. I can see why many, many people like this book. Really, Hanya Yanagihara knows how to use language. Unfortunately, the story she told was not worthy of it. The longer I read this book, the more I dreaded reading it, the worse my feelings got as I read, and the more I hated it for existing. Then I read a bunch of interviews by her and hated the book even more.

The long and short of it is that this book is nothing but mise
...more
Kai
Sep 28, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt, owned, 2017, overrated
“Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?”

Two months. Books usually don't take me this long to be read. Even long books don't. So what's the reason I was stuck with this book for so long?

Let's see. The never ending suffering and pain. The exaggerated and gross cruelty. The sadistic hopelessness. That's why.

I had such high expectations. And it would have been so easy to meet them. All I longed for while reading thi
...more
Nick Pageant
A Little Life is a powerful, disturbing novel. It's full of pain, desperation, and a sense of isolating sadness that sucks the reader into some very dark places. It's also the best book I've read in years.

Reading the blurb, you'll get the idea that this work is about 4 college friends and their lives, but that's not entirely true. While each of the 4 main characters, and in fact all the characters in the book, are fully realized with extraordinary character development, the book is really about
...more
Claudia Ramírez
4.5 stars

EDIT: Nevermind, 5 stars.
Andrew Smith
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Heed my warning: do not pick this book up if you're having a bad day! On the other hand, if you're in a good space and fancy something challenging and absorbing that might take over your life for a while (it's over 700 pages long) - this is the one.

There are many excellent reviews out there should you wish to delve into the micro details of the plot. But it's not my style to give so much away so I'll limit myself to a few lines on this. Ostensibly it's the tale of four students (Jude, Willem, M
...more
Navidad Thelamour
First of all, let me say that A Little Life was exactly what I’ve been looking for, hence the category that it’s been assigned to. This novel was so rich in raw, uninhibited emotion, in the true unveiling of life’s effervescence, horrors and humanity, that I didn’t feel that I was trudging through a thick read—though, believe me, it’s thick!—I felt that I was on a 40-year Hajj with these characters, a journey that, like real life, takes you over lofty and decadent highs then drags you through tr ...more
Angela M
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing


I read because I want a story to take me somewhere to experience a place I don't know . Not necessarily another city or country or continent a but a place in my heart and soul that I didn't know was there. This is where A Little Life took me . It consumed me for these last few days as I read late at night and then woke up thinking about Jude St. Francis . The book description will tell you that this is about the decades long friendships of four men who meet in college , about the careers they ch
...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Such an incredibly hard book to read, and yet a beautiful book too, on the true meaning of friendship. Written so tenderly, poignantly and with raw honesty. The characters run the gamut from those among us who are the most cruel, the most hateful and those who are able to offer a love that is profound, unconditional and where many of us probably fall, wanting to be better than we are.

The characters are human, flawed, some almost too good to be true, and yet it is the moments we don't see, that w
...more
Nnenna
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Is there life after A Little Life? Finished this book seconds ago and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to adequately describe how I feel about it.

8/12/15 Edited to add my longer review:

Let me just begin by saying that I absolutely loved this book and there’s no way this little review of mine will do it justice. I’m going to attempt to explain how I feel about this book anyway. I will admit that right now it’s too precious to me and I cannot highlight any flaws, but what review is objective?

A Litt
...more
Nat
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was hesitant at first with picking this up because I thought A Little Life revolved around four white dudes and their #whitepeopleproblems. But oh, was I incredibly mistaken. The cast of characters in this one is far from what I thought; it tackles a variety of topics such as sexuality, race, disabilities, mental illness, and so much more.
Not what I expected and for once, I was glad to be so off-track.

If you're looking to diversify your reading (as you should!!), this book has it all:

• POC cha
...more
. . . _ _ _ . . .
Feb 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Μάσησα με τις δακρύβρεχτες κριτικές σας, με τα 5αστερα σας, με τις ωραιότατες κριτικές σε εφημερίδες και βιβλιοφιλικά μπλόγκς τύπου "Σπαρακτικό!" και "Αριστούργημα" ! Τα ίδια μπλόγκς που δίνουν "Δυο τυχεροί από εσάς θα κερδίσουν ένα αντίτυπο από τις εκδόσεις Μεταίχμιο". Όχι, ρε πούστηδες, εγώ πλήρωσα το δικό μου αντίτυπο. Τα λεφτά μου πίσω. Τις ώρες που αφιέρωσα σε αυτό τον ατελείωτο αχταρμά φτηνού μελοδραματισμού και νεοπολούτιστικου lifestyle, πίσω.
Ε λοιπόν, όχι. Η "Λίγη Ζωή" όχι μόνο δεν είν
...more
Elyse Walters
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's a difficult novel to summarize the philosophical tone of this novel. It is at the same time wry, realistic, acutely sensitive....(disturbing examination of the lifelong abuse of one of the characters), ......and the type of book you read once in a lifetime.

Just as in real life... Friendships build more friends... Expanding the community circle.
At the start of friendships (which will span over many years)....
Four students: Willem, Jude, Jd, and Malcom share a cinder-blocked common dormitor
...more
Carol (Bookaria)
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, fiction
After finishing this book I'm a little dead inside.

Before reading A Little Life somebody described it to me as "emotionally gut-wrenching" and being the coward that I am I avoided reading it until this month, when our book club selected it for discussion.

The story follows the lives of four men starting from their college years and continuing for decades throughout their lives. The author is brilliant and did an excellent job drawing these complex characters.

The writing is beautiful. The story
...more
Nette
Apr 14, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larry H
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'll cut to the chase on this one fairly quickly: Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life is nothing short of an utter masterpiece. This book is one of the most dazzlingly brilliant, emotionally moving books I've ever read, and it will be a long time before I can get these characters and their story out of my head. And truth be told, as painful as this book was in places, I don't know if I want to be rid of these characters anytime soon.

"It is always easier to believe what you already think than to t
...more
Holly
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: women
I'm having really bad luck with long novels these days. There's just so much about this book I didn't like, and very little I did like, that I don't really want to talk about it very much. Everything was supremely unbelievable, especially the fact that Jude's life could be so perfect and his past and demons could be so traumatic. Did anyone ever just meet this guy and think, "meh, what a sad sack"? Did he ever take an exam and make a B? Did he ever just want to go to the movies or watch Netflix? ...more
Perry
Mar 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly....
It should be thrown with great force.

Dorothy Parker

Author Admits Intentional Manipulation of Readers in Piece of Pain Porn

Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise.― Philip Roth.

Review

I hate this novel. Yes, hate. It's an extremely elongated form of a wince-filled tearjerker film.

In this [Vulture piece] the author discussed how she was inspired to creat
...more
Jennifer Masterson
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"A Little Life" is one of the best books of the year, if not decade. It will be talked about for generations. What Yanagihara has created is unlike anything I have ever read. This book is Pulitzer material and sure to become a modern classic.

"A Little Life" is about 4 men who meet at a college in Massachusetts (Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB) and they stay friends long after college is over. The book spans decades. Without giving away too much, it is truly about the character, Jude St. Francis, an
...more
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“You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.” 1343 likes
“...things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.” 827 likes
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