A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Ha! There is no such thing as a little life. Every life is lived by the minute clocking up experiences, relationships, memories, regret. Your life is defined by your hopes, dreams and your past. Your decisions are based on how your memories and experiences shape your view of life and your feelings about yourself.
Guilt, regret and shame are yours to deal with or not, but they guide you whether you like it or not.
Four friends start their life long relationships as University flatmates. Much water flows under the bridges as they navigate their further study, careers, partners and family lives or lack of. The story centres around Jude. Jude does not have a past he is willing to share but from what his flatmates can gather his childhood was brutal and scarring. Malcolm has had a charmed life of wealth and privilege, J.B.’s solo mum and grandmother have worked hard to be successful and dote on the only son. Willem comes from the midwest, he had a disabled brother and parents who worked from dawn to dusk to provide for the family and had nothing left at the end of the day for him.
They need each other as they go their separate ways in the world, Jude as a lawyer, Malcolm an architect, J.B. a artist and Willem an actor. Coming together often over the years in combinations of the four.
This is a powerful book. Full of life that is real. Full of success that isn’t taken for granted. Full of self loathing and full of love.
Absolutely FIVE stars. This is a harrowing read that will invade your thinking when you aren’t thinking about it. It is dark, challenging and brutally graphic. The ending is understandable in context with the ‘little life’.