Our favorite books of the year.
Six months later, I am still thinking about this unutterably haunting and painful book filled with such love, tenderness, and kindness. The story follows four college friends into adulthood. At its core, it is about the devastating long-term effects of childhood abuse and internalized trauma and shame. Yet it is also about the exquisite power of love and friendship. Recommended By Nan S., Powells.com
A rich and detailed examination of four friends that meet in college. At the center is Jude, a lawyer with a past he doesn't talk about. He wears long sleeves in hot weather, walks with a limp, and lives with chronic pain. With steely compassion and an unflinching gaze, Yanagihara shows us how these friends interact over the years and how Jude's past continues to affect him. This is a big book with a bigger heart. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Tremendous. Devastating. Torturous. Hard-to-take hurts-your-heart scenes of the deep and dark sides of humanity. I could not stop reading this novel with its wonderful, flawless writing and memorable, haunting characters. I dare you to read A Little Life! Recommended By Adrienne C., Powells.com
In an alternate universe, A Little Life would be the love-child of Hanya Yanagihara and Donna Tartt, and this is a beautiful thing. The story setup is reminiscent of The Secret History, but the language and themes are all Yanagihara. Spanning five decades, this is a hefty novel at 700 pages, but one that you will wish would never end.
Focusing on a quartet of friends who move to New York together after college, A Little Life explores themes of love, coming of age, rewarding work, passion, family, and, of course, friendship: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The tortured Jude is the main character, who has lived through hell and back, in the way that only Yanagihara can depict hell.
This book conveys such deep sorrow, pain, and hopelessness, but Yanagihara somehow makes you love those things. I am begging everyone to read this book. It broke my heart into a million tiny jagged pieces, but I loved every excruciating minute of it. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & 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 publisher.
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome — but that will define his life forever.
In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.
“Drawn in extraordinary detail by incantatory prose. . . . Affecting and transcendent.” The Washington Post
“Remarkable. . . . An epic study of trauma and friendship written with
such intelligence and depth of perception that it will be one of the
benchmarks against which all other novels that broach those subjects
(and they are legion) will be measured. . . . A Little Life announces [Yanagihara] as a major American novelist.” The Wall Street Journal
“Exquisite. . . . It’s not hyperbole to call this novel a masterwork — if anything that word is simply just too little for it.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Capacious and consuming. . . . Immersive.” The Boston Globe
“Deeply moving....A wrenching portrait of the enduring grace of friendship.” NPR
"This is a novel that values the everyday over the extraordinary, the push and pull of human relationships — and the book's effect is cumulative. There is real pleasure in following characters over such a long period, as they react to setbacks and successes, and, in some cases, change. By the time the characters reach their 50s and the story arrives at its moving conclusion, readers will be attached and find them very hard to forget." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Hanya Yanagihara is the author of The People in the Trees. She lives in New York City.