Nick Pageant's Reviews > A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
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it was amazing
bookshelves: classic, favorite-rereadable, gay-lit, gen-fic, alonamakesbooksbetter

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 just one man, Jude St. Francis.

Jude is a truly broken person; he's been broken by a childhood that is both a series of horrors that are difficult to read about and a testament to what a human being can endure. Jude doesn't come out of his childhood whole and I feel a little broken by having read about his life. I also feel that strange happiness that comes from being emotionally purged in the way that only great books can accomplish.

As Alona mentioned in her review, this is not a romance, but it is a love story. It's a love story about friendship that tries to overcome pain, and the bravery and sacrifice that true friendship and love sometimes require. The romance in this book is a beautiful one, but not in the traditional sense that a reader might expect or want for the characters involved.

We all often say that we loved this character or that character in one of the many books that we read, I know I say it often, but the character of Jude St. Francis is something special. I loved Jude more than I've loved any character before; that's probably why he was capable of so thoroughly breaking my heart. I wanted so much for him, I wanted him to be so much and get so much in life. He didn't get all that I wanted for him, but in the end, I was satisfied with where he ended up and it seemed fitting and very real.

I hate the term "triggers", but it's appropriate here. I have a few triggers of my own and they were part of this book, but I felt the writing here just brought me into those places that I don't like to go and left me, not upset or feeling traumatized, but more appreciative of my own ability to survive and thrive. I wanted to reach into the book and take Jude's hand and tell him we'd get through it together.

This book is definitely not for everyone, but if you're up to it, you'll be thrilled by the writing. There's pain here, and beauty along with it.

Big thanks to Alona for the many messages we exchanged while reading this. It sounds silly, but I feel as if the two of us have survived something together.


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Quotes Nick Liked

Hanya Yanagihara
“...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.”
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

Hanya Yanagihara
“It was precisely these scenes he missed the most from his own life with Willem, the forgettable, in-between moments in which nothing seemed to be happening but whose absence was singularly unfillable.”
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

Hanya Yanagihara
“Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified.”
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life


Reading Progress

January 13, 2015 – Shelved
January 13, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
March 10, 2015 – Started Reading
March 13, 2015 –
12.0% "He couldn't remember being a child and being able to define happiness: there was only misery, or fear, and the absence of misery or fear, and the latter state was all he had needed or wanted.\n \n description"
March 14, 2015 –
26.0% "I'm crying too hard to see my kindle. Time for a break."
March 15, 2015 –
39.0% "Screw you, J.B.!!!"
March 15, 2015 –
50.0% "Halfway! I am emotionally exhausted and I have a headache from crying. I'm taking a porn break."
March 16, 2015 –
68.0% "Happiness for these characters? Do I trust it?\n \n description"
March 16, 2015 –
100.0% "I did it. I deserve alcohol."
March 16, 2015 – Finished Reading
January 24, 2016 – Shelved as: all-time-favorites
September 11, 2016 – Shelved as: classic
September 11, 2016 – Shelved as: favorite-rereadable
September 11, 2016 – Shelved as: gay-lit
September 11, 2016 – Shelved as: gen-fic
September 11, 2016 – Shelved as: alonamakesbooksbetter

Comments Showing 1-50 of 60 (60 new)


message 1: by Dee (new) - added it

Dee Montoya I Love this "this is not a romance, but it is a love story. It's a love story about friendship that tries to overcome pain, and the bravery and sacrifice that true friendship and love sometimes requires" I need to read this book. Great review Nick!


Nick Pageant Alissa wrote: "This was a beautiful review!"

Thanks, Alissa!


Nick Pageant Dee wrote: "I Love this "this is not a romance, but it is a love story. It's a love story about friendship that tries to overcome pain, and the bravery and sacrifice that true friendship and love sometimes req..."

Good luck with it, Dee. I'm here for support and hand-holding as required. Just drop me a PM and we'll get through it.


message 4: by Dee (new) - added it

Dee Montoya Nick wrote: "Dee wrote: "I Love this "this is not a romance, but it is a love story. It's a love story about friendship that tries to overcome pain, and the bravery and sacrifice that true friendship and love s..."

Thanks babe, I' getting the wine as well. But I need to read it!!!


Alona Wonderful review Nick!
I'm so glad we read it together.
I would highly recommend reading it with someone, it is a book that needs a companion. For crying together, vent, and hold a hand... A perfect book to read with You!!


Nick Pageant Alona wrote: "Wonderful review Nick!
I'm so glad we read it together.
I would highly recommend reading it with someone, it is a book that needs a companion. For crying together, vent, and hold a hand... A perfec..."


Thank you! We owe ourselves a nice easy BR next time!


message 7: by Elsbeth (new)

Elsbeth Wonderful review, Nick... Sounds really emotional!!!


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Great review Nick! Now if only Goodreads wouldn't make me track you down like I'm some kind of stalker life would be great ; )


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark I'll read your review when I'll finish the book, but I love the rating!


message 10: by Karen (last edited Mar 17, 2015 10:27AM) (new) - added it

Karen Excellent review. So good in fact I just ordered the book in hardcopy. This is a rarity for me but on occasion it does happen. After reading your review and a few others. I decided that this book needed to be a permanent fixture in my actual library. So it will arrive with my Greg Iles book at the end of April. I am looking forward to it and will make sure to have tissues and my cuddliest teddy bear handy for comfort ;-)


message 11: by Marcie (new)

Marcie sounds like a really hard book. glad you enjoyed despite the feels.


message 12: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Elsbeth wrote: "Wonderful review, Nick... Sounds really emotional!!!"

Thanks, Elsbeth!


message 13: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Kelly (and the Book Boar) wrote: "Great review Nick! Now if only Goodreads wouldn't make me track you down like I'm some kind of stalker life would be great ; )"

Lol! Sorry you feel stalkerish!


message 14: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Karen wrote: "Excellent review. So good in fact I just ordered the book in hardcopy. This is a rarity for me but on occasion it does happen. After reading your review and a few others. I decided that this book n..."

I really hope you enjoy it, Karen.


message 15: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Marcie wrote: "sounds like a really hard book. glad you enjoyed despite the feels."

It's a great one, Marcie!


message 16: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen Nick wrote: "Karen wrote: "Excellent review. So good in fact I just ordered the book in hardcopy. This is a rarity for me but on occasion it does happen. After reading your review and a few others. I decided th..."

I trust you Nick. You didn't steer me wrong about Whyborne & Griffin those two were fantastic and I so enjoyed that series. Monsters and all.


Erika I'm currently reading this and feeling that I'll be thinking this is the best book I've read in a few years. It's honest and beautifully written and I keep going back to read certain passages and I love that it's 700 pages, because I hate when good books are short. Im so glad that I saw yours and everyone else's updates and reviews about this! I might need some hand holding of my own lol.


message 18: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Erika wrote: "I'm currently reading this and feeling that I'll be thinking this is the best book I've read in a few years. It's honest and beautifully written and I keep going back to read certain passages and I..."

I'm so happy you're enjoying it, Erika! Agree that it's the best thing to come along in a while. I'm here for hugs as needed.


message 19: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen Erika wrote: "I'm currently reading this and feeling that I'll be thinking this is the best book I've read in a few years. It's honest and beautifully written and I keep going back to read certain passages and I..."

Erika you have me so freakin' excited and happy that I ordered this book now I can't wait to get my hands on it.


Erika Karen wrote: "Erika wrote: "I'm currently reading this and feeling that I'll be thinking this is the best book I've read in a few years. It's honest and beautifully written and I keep going back to read certain..."

It's gonna be a sad one, but I think it'll be worth it. It is so far.


message 21: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen Erika wrote: "Karen wrote: "Erika wrote: "I'm currently reading this and feeling that I'll be thinking this is the best book I've read in a few years. It's honest and beautifully written and I keep going back t..."

I'm ok with books that are sad. I wouldn't want a steady diet of them but once in a while it's ok to be reminded that life's not always sunshine and happiness and if it's a good book than it's worth it.


Erika Karen wrote: "
I'm ok with books that are sad. I wouldn't want a steady diet of them but once in a while it's ok to be reminded that life's not always sunshine and happiness and if it's a good book than it's worth it...."


Exactly how I feel.


message 23: by LenaRibka (last edited Mar 22, 2015 03:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

LenaRibka There were parts in the book when I really hated the author for having written it, and you for having recommended it to me! But all emotions aside, I want to thank you for it, Nick. I cried the half of the night reading it up to the end, waking up with a mountain of tissues(My eyes don't look like European now, if you know what I mean). And I have no idea how to review it.


message 24: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Lena♥Ribka wrote: "There were parts in the book when I really hated the author for having written it, and you for having recommended it to me! But all emotions aside, I want to thank you for it, Nick. I cried the hal..."

Wow, thank you, Lena! I already said this is one of the best books I've read in years. I was certain you would love it. I don't think I'll ever read it again, but I'm glad I did and I'm glad you did too!


LenaRibka Nick wrote: "Lena♥Ribka wrote: "There were parts in the book when I really hated the author for having written it, and you for having recommended it to me! But all emotions aside, I want to thank you for it, Ni..."


Don't come to idea to recommend me all bad-ending-books you'll come across! I think, it won't damage this book to have a different end, don't you think so?


message 26: by Nick (last edited Mar 22, 2015 08:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Lena♥Ribka wrote: "Nick wrote: "Lena♥Ribka wrote: "There were parts in the book when I really hated the author for having written it, and you for having recommended it to me! But all emotions aside, I want to thank y..."

I think we all need to read some happy books for a while! I don't know about the ending... I was actually okay with it and it made sense to me. I wanted something different, of course, but it worked for me.


LenaRibka Nick wrote: "Lena♥Ribka wrote: "Nick wrote: "Lena♥Ribka wrote: "There were parts in the book when I really hated the author for having written it, and you for having recommended it to me! But all emotions aside..."


It was just my wish said aloud. No, I think, it is a perfect ending for this book. I didn't expect this ending. It was an ingenious twist, talking from a writer's view.


message 28: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Lena♥Ribka wrote: "Nick wrote: "Lena♥Ribka wrote: "Nick wrote: "Lena♥Ribka wrote: "There were parts in the book when I really hated the author for having written it, and you for having recommended it to me! But all e..."

Agreed!


Erika I'm at 78%. Someone hold me!


message 30: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen Erika wrote: "I'm at 78%. Someone hold me!"

*hugs, tissues & a teddy bear* will this help?


message 31: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Erika wrote: "I'm at 78%. Someone hold me!"

Consider yourself held. You're getting to the REALLY tough stuff, but you're almost there. I just powered through the last 20% with no stops.


message 32: by Staci (new) - added it

Staci Hello Nick!! I'm so intrigued by this book based upon your review. You may be hearing from me when I need a shoulder to cry on.... ;)


message 33: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant Staci wrote: "Hello Nick!! I'm so intrigued by this book based upon your review. You may be hearing from me when I need a shoulder to cry on.... ;)"

You will definitely need that shoulder! I hope you like the book and I'm here when you're ready to talk about it.


message 34: by JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust (last edited Mar 23, 2015 08:28PM) (new)

JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust EXCEPTIONAL REVIEW .. . . . I 'm the weirdo that prefers a broken man over an alpha male. There's nothing sexier (to me) than a male lead who can admit his fears, doubts and inner struggles.


message 35: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant JaHy♕ Bitchy Goddess ♥'s everything CrAzY ☿ wrote: " EXCEPTIONAL REVIEW .. . . . I 'm the weirdo that prefers a broken man over an alpha male. There's nothing sexier (to me) than a male lead who can admit his fears, doubts and inner struggles."

Thank you! I loved this one so much.


JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust Nick wrote: "JaHy♕ Bitchy Goddess ♥'s everything CrAzY ☿ wrote: " EXCEPTIONAL REVIEW .. . . . I 'm the weirdo that prefers a broken man over an alpha male. There's nothing sexier (to me) than a male l..."

(view spoiler)


message 37: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant JaHy♕ Bitchy Goddess ♥'s everything CrAzY ☿ wrote: "Nick wrote: "JaHy♕ Bitchy Goddess ♥'s everything CrAzY ☿ wrote: " EXCEPTIONAL REVIEW .. . . . I 'm the weirdo that prefers a broken man over an alpha male. There's nothing sexier (to me) ..."

We paid the full amount. I regret nothing!


message 38: by JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust (last edited Mar 23, 2015 09:17PM) (new)

JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust Nick wrote: "JaHy♕ Bitchy Goddess ♥'s everything CrAzY ☿ wrote: "Nick wrote: "JaHy♕ Bitchy Goddess ♥'s everything CrAzY ☿ wrote: " EXCEPTIONAL REVIEW .. . . . I 'm the weirdo that prefers a broken man ..."

Paperback it is. Thanks Nick :-)


message 39: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Now that's one kick ass review Nick, nicely done


Erika Totally paid $12 and don't regret it.


message 41: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul OK WTF is going on with amazon and the Kindle version?? Yesterday I was only able to buy a Hardcover and now in the kindle store I get this message This title is not currently available for purchase


AmberBug com* This book broke my heart into tiny little pieces and I NEVER cry over books. This is going in my top 10 books, and I'm glad you loved Jude as much as I did... I wanted to protect him from everything in the world (as did all those around him). See! Now I'm talking like I live in that world and interact with those people... so freakin' unreal.


message 43: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul AmberBug wrote: "This book broke my heart into tiny little pieces and I NEVER cry over books. This is going in my top 10 books, and I'm glad you loved Jude as much as I did... I wanted to protect him from everythin..."

AmberBug where did you buy it?


AmberBug com* Paul wrote: "AmberBug wrote: "This book broke my heart into tiny little pieces and I NEVER cry over books. This is going in my top 10 books, and I'm glad you loved Jude as much as I did... I wanted to protect h..."

I got it as an ARC but I'm buying a copy from my local bookstore RJ Julia in Madison, CT. I know they have copies and I think Powells has some too (if you need to buy online).


message 45: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul AmberBug wrote: "Paul wrote: "AmberBug wrote: "This book broke my heart into tiny little pieces and I NEVER cry over books. This is going in my top 10 books, and I'm glad you loved Jude as much as I did... I wanted..."

Thank you!!!!!!


message 46: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen Paul wrote: "OK WTF is going on with amazon and the Kindle version?? Yesterday I was only able to buy a Hardcover and now in the kindle store I get this message This title is not currently available for purchase"

Hi Paul, I don't know if this will help but I ordered a copy from Chapters/Indigo, I bought the book in hardcopy but there is a Kobo version (This is usually EPUB as that is Kobo's format of choice)it is $15.99 Canadian, so it should be cheaper in US, I'm just not sure how much as I have my account set to Canadian being as that I am Canadian. Good luck.


message 47: by Paul (last edited Mar 24, 2015 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Karen wrote: "Paul wrote: "OK WTF is going on with amazon and the Kindle version?? Yesterday I was only able to buy a Hardcover and now in the kindle store I get this message This title is not currently availabl..."

Thanks Karen I'm in Australia so it will be even more :) EPUB is fine for me


message 48: by Karen (last edited Mar 24, 2015 04:45PM) (new) - added it

Karen Paul wrote: "Karen wrote: "Paul wrote: "OK WTF is going on with amazon and the Kindle version?? Yesterday I was only able to buy a Hardcover and now in the kindle store I get this message This title is not curr..."

Well that sucks, the price not that you live in Australia because I think that's awesome. I ended up ordering a hardcopy because it was only $22 for me because of my Plum Rewards card and I figured for the difference I might as well get a nice copy to put on my bookshelf. I had another book that I wanted and so between the two of them I saved about $25 and I got free shipping. I ordered this last week and received my copy in the mail today. I love my e-reader but the hardcopy sure is pretty and so nice to hold.


thomas Great review. I feel the same way only you said it better. I haven't cried reading a book in a long time.


message 50: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Pageant thomas wrote: "Great review. I feel the same way only you said it better. I haven't cried reading a book in a long time."

Thanks, Thomas. I bawled like a baby throughout this one. Loved every minute, though.


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