My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Read June 28-July 7, 2017
A Little Life was a slow and heavy read for me that I read in small amounts with other books in between as to not allow Jude to overcome my thoughts. It turned out to be the longest it’s taken me to read a book in a very long time.
A Little Life is an unsettling, dark, and harrowing story of the brutal physical and emotional lifelong suffering and trauma endured by Jude but also a beautiful story of love, compassion, and friendship.
Hanya Yangihara allows us to get to know Jude and his friends and I started to deeply care for Jude. She takes her time and carefully reveals pieces of his trauma piece by piece until it becomes endless and relentless, forcing us to see the horror Jude endured. We learn of his feelings of self-loathing, shame and self-worthlessness. Leaving me asking how much suffering can one character take and how much can I take.
There is some brilliance here as to how Hanya Yangihara shows no mercy in the relentless and endless suffering of Jude. At time showing no escape for it, wanting me to put down the book and skimming through the horrific scenes. This allowed me to see just because we can look away from someone suffering, it doesn’t mean it will go away.
There is some beauty here in the friendships and friends Jude has and in their fight to care for him, their compassion and their refusal to look away and give into Jude’s self-loathing. Compassion it not just something we feel it’s something we give. The most difficult kind of compassion is the kind that we refuse to look away from.
A Little Life left me conflicted with the brilliance of this story and the way it made me feel. As the story progressed I felt no hope, no resolution, no mercy for the suffering. I felt at time Yangihara stretched the suffering to the point I was exhausted from reading so much of it. This, after all, was purely fiction with no research or a study on trauma or the effects of trauma. She left me feeling there was no hope, there was nothing that could be done to help, including therapy and that is just not something I can believe in. In the end, I looked at Jude as a concept for a story and not a believable character. Based on how this story made me feel, I rate it 3.5.