A Little Life: A Big Novel. A Monumental Accomplishment. 

Posted: June 21, 2016 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m sitting here completely stunned; overwhelmed by an extraordinary piece of writing. This is not a happy book. This is not an inspiring book. This is a horrifying book; and one of the most profoundly sad stories I have ever read. Yet, this is also one of the most beautiful 700+ pages of prose I have ever encountered.

You know those books about the old college friends who get together after a long time apart and reestablish their close relationships? Well this ain’t one of those.

You know those stories about the guys who were treated horribly as children but grow to adulthood and finally become well-adjusted adults? Nope. This isn’t that either.

You know those BDSM stories that make it seem like the person being beaten or tortured actually enjoys is the pain? This is not that story.

How about the newspaper articles about the abusive priests? Nope, not that.

The Stephen King horror novels? Nope.

The stories with the many plot threads that continually intertwine until you realize they are a work of craftsmanship of the highest order? Now we are getting closer. But this is not that either.

Is this a novel of horror? Maybe. Love? Maybe. The terrors of a horrible childhood? Perhaps. Compassion? Friendship? Adversity? Sexual identity? Child abuse? Genius? Adult adoption? I don’t know.

I am not exactly sure what this book is. What I know is that it is so intense, so horrifying, and written with such extraordinarily beautiful craft that I could not possibly read it. Thank God for audible.com.

Hanya Yanagihara has written one of the most extraordinary books I have ever read. Her second novel, “A Little Life”, tells the horrifying story of Jude St. Francis, A man whose life is so sad and terrible that it is difficult to imagine anyone being treated in a more disgusting and terrifying way then he as a child.

One of the most amazing things about this novel, however, is that this immensely horrifying story is told in such extraordinarily beautiful language that it is almost impossible to believe it is a story of a man’s sexual abuse and the result of that abuse on that man’s life. It is a sickening story written in one of the most beautiful ways I have ever seen.

I was not joking when I said I could not read this book. Every page would give me nightmares. Fortunately I have been able to listen to the book read by a remarkably astute performer. The Audible Studios production is really wonderful. It is well read, or I really should say well acted, and that is what allowed me to get through it without having to stop every page or two.

Honestly, you can read a lot about the book simply by reading other reviews. I do not know how to draw a line between what I should describe and what I must leave to your imagination. So, it is best that you get your summary from another source. All I would like to do here is to encourage you to look into this truly amazing novel and to consider checking it out. For some of you it may not be as emotionally difficult to read as it was for me. But, whether you read it or listen to it, I strongly encourage you to experience this book.

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