A Little Life + 2020 Book Recap (so far!)

March 17, 2020

I never thought I would have the time to blog again, but welcome to the quarantine baybee, I'm working from home!

I have been brainstorming ways to blog about books that I am reading this year and teetering between sharing only books that I love versus sharing everything that I've read versus splitting it into genres versus a monthly recap. I've decided, with where I'm at right now in terms of posting this, I'd like to center this post around my new all-time favorite book (a big statement) and also share reviews I have given other books on Goodreads which you can see here.

Let's talk about A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara.

I first heard about this book from an old manager who told me it was a "bummer." I heard about it from a girl I work on a literary magazine with. I heard about it from my best friend. I picked it up from the library. I decided audiobook was going to be a better route for me to take. I invested over twenty-four hours collectively listening to A Little Life.

I love this book because it is centered around characters and their relationships and those are my favorite stories to read. While there is a "present day" plot, you're also watching these character: Malcolm, Willem, JB, and my sweet Jude grow older together as friends. The first chunk of the book develops while they are in their twenties, and by the end of the the book they are in their fifties.

I'm posting this as an umbrella trigger warning for this book. If you have any trauma that is easily triggered by hearing about trauma, this book is not for you.

Focus shifts to Jude, who has become a lawyer, and tells his story dropping scenes of different ages sporadically throughout the book. As a child, he grew up in a monastery run by monks. He moved from there to a group home. He moved from there to being held in a man's house. He goes through an emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive relationship with most of the people he comes in contact with. He has problems with his legs and walking. He self harms. He will break your heart into a billion pieces at least twelve times through the book.

This is the first book I have had to step away from and take a break from. The first book that made me cry. The first book that made me feel so intensely for a fictional character in a long time and I know that feeling will never be felt for anybody other than Jude. It hurts. It's quite a conquest to get through. It can get wordy, which is why I recommend the audiobook. 

If you're on the fence about it, you can do a little research and see the plot on Wikipedia. It will give you a brief overview, but it will also spoil the end for you. Just when you think things can't get worse, they do. It's been disliked online because it has been called trauma porn. This is an interesting article with quotes from Yanigahara explaining why she created what she did and what the books mean to her. 

I think Yanigahara has an interesting, intricate, and beautiful prose throughout the book. I found myself engulfed in and inspired by her writing. I'm anxious to read other books by her, but no book that exists or can be written will have the same emotional impact on me that A Little Life has had. 

If you haven't read it, please read it.
If you're not ready to commit to 800 pages, try listening to it.
Once you're in, you won't regret it.
Here's an article from the New Yorker taking the words out of my mouth.

I am envious of people who get to read this book for the first time.

Below is a screenshot of other books I have read so far this year and how I rated them in stars in Goodreads. You can follow my Goodreads account to keep up with these in real time.

Until next time. :)

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