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Ratings and Reviews (21 218 star ratings
21 reviews
)

Overall rating

4.4 out of 5
218
5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Stars
142 42 15 9 10

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All Reviews

  • 19 person found this review helpful

    19 people found this review helpful

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    A story that will tear your heart out

    Life is never fair and this story drives that point right through you with the force of an earthquake. The story focuses on four men who were college roommates, each with past and present baggage. For Jude in particular, that baggage is a burden that slowly eats away at his soul and, to some degree, the souls of those he loves. Yamagihara explores some of the darkest nooks and crannies of human behavior and she makes clear just how badly damaged, both physically and emotionally, a person can be left after years of abuse on both of those levels. Eventually the focus shifts and zooms in on two of the main characters. It is a hopeful shift, through which our connection with these men galvanizes into a bond and we share their optimism for a fresh start and a happier tomorrow. However, the path toward happiness is fraught with dark shadows and foreboding signposts. It's many twists and turns lead to several dead ends, from some of which there is no turning back. A Little Life will, unless you are not human, affect you deeply. It's very real and definitely not a fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever after. This story should have five stars, however the book doesn't quite make it on technical merit. I found Ms. Yanagihara too liberal with her use of pronouns to the point that it was impossible, all to often, to figure out which he/him/his she was referring too without tearing myself out of the story to go back and figure it out. This is especially important in a story populated predominantly with characters of the same gender. There were a number of other editorial gaffs including misplaced modifiers, that offered up the same awkward reading experience. If you can push yourself through the technical obstacle course, A Little Life is an amazingly complex and moving story.
  • 10 person found this review helpful

    10 people found this review helpful

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    Compelling but unrelentingly sad

    While I did really like this book - it was very difficult to read. There were times that I couldn't put it down, but then there were also times that I felt I had no choice but to close it, put it down and not think about it for a while. Some of the scenes in the book are so haunting and disturbing that I actually had to skip through some of it. It's diffiult to say whether or not I can actually recommend A Little Life to anyone. So, I suppose I'll say that it probably takes a certain kind of person to get through this book, but if you can, you will be rewarded with such a tragically beautiful story and a complex character in Jude St. Francis, both of which, you will not forget for a long time.
  • 5 person found this review helpful

    5 people found this review helpful

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    Way too long!

    This book could have been 200 pages less....the narrative is very repetitive and it was a slog to get to the end. I enjoyed the first half but got bored and frustrated with how the characters got older but the storyline stayed the same!
  • 3 person found this review helpful

    3 people found this review helpful

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    A very deep, dark 5 stars.

    This was so unbelievably stunning. First, though, a caveat: it's not a book that will leave you feeling good about humanity. It will give you more insight than you ever imagined regarding childhood abuse (every conceivable category of said childhood abuse), about self-harm, and the long-term effects and mindsets of trauma survivors. It will show you what it feels like to love that survivor, even when it is so hard for them to love themselves. Mostly, though, it will break your heart. Yanagihara's writing is astounding in its accuracy, not just in the psychology of the characters but the medical and legal knowledge it presents. Theoretically this is a story of one person (Jude St. Francis) as he goes through his life, trying, however unsuccessfully, to stifle memories of his past. The irony is that his little life is encyclopedic in scope - encompassing and, seemingly, consuming the lives and emotions of his friends. The true extent of what happened to Jude is revealed slowly over the course of the book - as he gradually trusts those few closest enough to him to be burdened with it. It is absolutely tortuous to read, as tortuous as reading about the physical and emotional pain he endures as routinely as breathing. This was completely immersive, often uncomfortably so. But it was also so, so worth it to experience.
  • 3 person found this review helpful

    3 people found this review helpful

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    But for Jude...

    I didn't read 'A Little Life;' instead I had it as an audio book for a long drive this summer based on the reviews it received and its interesting premise. My drive was long, but this book was even longer and the main character so wretched I nearly crashed my car a few times to make it end. I will fully admit to yelling a few times at the characters because I couldn't handle it anymore. I understand that I clearly miss the point of Jude and seem less human, less empathetic for it. Perhaps. But instead of finding him to be a sympathetic character who was just the sum of all the horrible acts done to him, I found his story to be bleak to the point of absurdity and his present self so wretched, I could hardly handle it. I enjoyed the other characters, I enjoyed the way it seems to transcend time. I even enjoyed Yanagihara's gift of prose. But if I had to hear one more word snivelled from Jude, I might just crash my car.
218

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