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A Little Life

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  261,730 ratings  ·  38,359 reviews
Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its readers.

When four classmates from
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 th…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 ca…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)

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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  261,730 ratings  ·  38,359 reviews

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Glenn Sumi
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it

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
Michael Flick
Jun 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: worst
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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.

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
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
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
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a little (ha) at odds with how to feel. Simply: it truly is stunning. The writing, the time landscape, the exploration, the devastation — all of it is expertly done in my opinion. My trouble is why so many people highly recommend this novel. I had gotten hundreds of messages telling me to read this and then by the end I wondered why so many people want others to feel the pain of this novel. I don’t say this ironically — I truly don’t understand why this reading experience is sensationalized.

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
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
OMG my poor heart... I can't...

If you want to find yourself sobbing late at night for characters you grow so attached to and have to put down the book for a while… this is it.

It’s been a very long time since a book utterly broke me.

Beautifully written character driven book (see I like them sometimes!) about our friends meeting in university in New York. It’s about their lives, their careers, their friendships, their high points but mostly their low ones.

Trigger warnings for… everything.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
i have died a hundred deaths and shed a thousand tears whilst reading this book. it feels as if i have never truly known grief until this moment. how does one recover from such heartbreak?

i am at a complete loss, in a devastatingly beautiful way; but how comforting it is to know that a story about a little life has become such a significant part of mine.

5 stars
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.
Victoria Schwab
Jesus Christ.
I cried for an HOUR last night.
This freaking book.
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
did i finish this book, or did this book finish me?
“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
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. ...more
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
ELLIAS (elliasreads)
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best and ultimately, the worst book I've ever read in my entire life.

Video review here:

Twitter | Bookstagram | Youtube |
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Please visit my blog 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
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
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
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
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

Proudly Manipulating Readers into nth Degree of Misery and Sorrow

I hated this book. I cannot recall another that so raised my ire. An über liberal pre-meditated wah-wah, going so far into the wimper-sphere that it might be seen as an ironic harbinger of middle America’s 2016 backlash against paternalistic elitism which delivered us the worst leader in U.S. history.

In this [Vulture piece] the au
Maggie Stiefvater
Gave it a shot; not for me, although it may work well for others as the prose is quite inviting and the world dense and inhabited. Felt as if it possibly veered a little too far towards voyeurism and far from truth-telling, which, with the subject matter, wasn't an equation that worked for me. ...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
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
chan ☆
May 06, 2021 added it
Shelves: 2021, dnf
and award for quickest DNF of this book goes to yours truly, at 1%

i thought i'd be tapping out around the 50% mark but for the life of me i can't get past the writing. i know it's lauded as being gorgeous and like... i can see it. but it was a leeeettle impersonal and a touch pretentious to me.

i know what this story is about and i don't think it's going to have it's intended impact on me so i think i am going to stop while i'm ahead. happy for those of y'all that connect with this one, but real
Charlotte May
Reading this was honestly such a traumatic experience. So much pain, but also so much love. 😭

“My life, he will think, my he slips into that other world that he visits when he is in such pain, that world he knows is never far from his own but that he can never remember after: My Life.”

Ok. So how do I sum up 720 pages of pain?!
I will say this now, if you’re in a bad place emotionally - DO NOT TOUCH THIS BOOK!
It hurts. Reading this physically hurts, and it is more or less consistent
Felice Laverne
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
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