I must have heard of A Little Life from other bloggers. None of my friends read it, something I found out when I was craving to discuss it with someone. So – thank you, dear bloggers, for bringing A Little Life to my life.

A Little Life in a nutshell

According to the official summary, A Little Life tells the story of 4 male friends, from college until their 60s. I think this is misleading, as I see it a bit differently: A Little Life is the story of Jude and his 3 friends – just like the planets revolve around the Sun, most of the novel’s characters revolve around Jude.

Back to the quartet of friends – they are all young, ambitious to make their way in New York. And they have an interesting mix of careers – an actor, a painter, an architect, and a lawyer. Over decades, their relationships deepen and get entangled, but one thing does not change: Jude remains their center of gravity.

A Little Life is a story of friendship and love, physical and psychological trauma, anxiety and helplessness. Yanagihara said in an interview that she “wanted everything turned up a little too high” (The Guardian, 2015), and that’s what she delivered.

Overall impression

Oh my, this was one of the most captivating and consuming books I’ve ever read. Yanagihara makes you fall in love with the characters … and then you find yourself captive in their world, a world of pain and troubles, certainly not a world where you’d like to be. And despite all this, you cannot put down the book. You just continue reading chapter after chapter, until you reach the end of the 700+ pages book.

After A Little Life, my reading life will never be the same again.

Chronic pain and gay relationships

A Little Life tackles two topics that I haven’t met too often along my reading journey – chronic pain and gay relationships.

One of the characters has spinal problems, and chronic pain plays a huge role in his life. I found it fascinating not only how the writer illustrated the life of the character from the pain perspective, and also how much it influences all his relations.

Regarding gay relationships, A Little Life has been called “the most ambitious chronicle of the social and emotional lives of gay men to have emerged for many years” (Greenwell, 2015). Love takes many forms in the novel, from romantic love to profound friendship and care.

Hanya Yanagihara – a fascinating writer

In one of the interviews after publishing A Little Life, Yanagihara explained about a discussion with her editor about “how much a readers can take” (read here the interview in The Guardian, 2015). Her view on the readers’ perspective made me extremely curios to read her other books.

Back in 2013, Hanya Yanagihara published her debut novel – The People in the Trees – a story inspired by the real story of a scientific researcher accused of child molestation. And in January 2022 Yanagihara will publish her third novel – To Paradise – a novel “[..] spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia” (The Bookseller.com, 2021).


Reading A Little Life is an amazing journey, a journey I would recommend to the brave ones. This is a story that will consume you as no other, a story of pain and trauma, and a story that will make you appreciate the beautiful life you’re living.

If you read this book, please let me know! What’s the first word that comes to your mind when you think of A Little Life?

‘Till next time … happy reading!


15 thoughts on “The award for the most consuming and heartrending book I’ve ever read goes to: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (book review)

    1. Oh yes, her books tackle very intense topics! To be honest I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading … and when I realized, it was already too late 🙂
      Sending virtual hugs from Romania! >:D<

      Liked by 1 person

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