Monday, 30 January 2017

Book Review - A little life - H. Yanagihara

"...things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully."

One of the best books I have read in a long time. It made me cry, smile, cry again and again, it has been such an emotional roller coaster. 
It is one of the very few books where, even if the reality described is completely different from my own, I "felt" every emotion the characters were feeling, I was there with them in their NY apartments, I suffered with them, laugh with them. talked and walked and breathed with them. For over 5 days and 700 and something pages I was completely and utterly taken by this extraordinary novel.
A little life starts describing in various voices the life of these four friends, Malcolm, JB, Willem and Jude. The start is quite in low tone, so much so that the first time I opened this book and read the first few pages, I was not convinced at all. Thanks God though I then decided, thanks to a friend reading it too, to start it again and I just loved it. I fell in love with it at about page 70 and it is one of the best books I have read in ages.
Jude is the main character of this novel, Jude and his past from hell, which is slowly revealed to the reader, Jude and his fears, his struggles, his successes, his friends. Then there is Willem, Jude's best friend, roommate, companion, saver, the best friend anybody could wish to have on their side. My favourite character though is Harold, Jude's professor and mentor and fatherly figure, Harold with all his unconditional love and giving.
This is the passage that for me summaries Jude the most:
"He doesn't know this now, but in the years to come he will, again and again, test Harold's claims of devotion, will throw himself against his promises to see how steadfast they are. He won't even be consists that he's doing this. But he will do it anyway, because part of him will never believe Harold and Julia; as much as he wants to, as much as he thinks he does, he won't, and he will always be convinced that they will eventually tire of him, that they will one day regret their involvement with him. And so he will challenge them, because when their relationship inevitably ends, he will be able to look back and know for certain that he caused it, and not only that, but the specific incident that caused it, and he will never have to wonder, or worry, about what he did wrong, or what he could have done better. But that is in the future. For now, his happiness is flawless."

I loved the characters, the dialogues, more than Loved the writing style (oh that divine use of punctuation!), the NY setting, the love, the sadness, the fear, the pain, and most of all the friendship. The friendship in this novel is pure, beautiful, giving without wanting anything back, is just being there for the other, it is friendship at its best. And even with all the pain and suffering that these guys go through, you still envy them a little bit because of this special friendship they have and they manage to maintain for decades/. 

Some said that the second half of this novel is a bit "too much" drama for one book, but to be honest I did not feel like that as I was by then so attached to Jude and Willem and Harold and engrossed by the sublime writing style and in love once again with NY City that I just enjoyed every phrase, every word, every page of the novel till the very end. And then I cried because I had to leave them and i wished I savored the book longer (but I couldn't, I was too curios to read the rest of the plot!).
I am so happy that I read this book and I will think about it for a long time.

“You see, Jude, in life, sometimes nice things happen to good people. You don’t need to worry—they don’t happen as often as they should. But when they do, it’s up to the good people to just say ‘thank you,’ and move on, and maybe consider that the person who’s doing the nice thing gets a bang out of it as well, and really isn’t in the mood to hear all the reasons that the person for whom he’s done the nice thing doesn’t think he deserves it or isn’t worthy of it.” 

Overall rating: 10    Plot: 10    Writing style: 10    Cover:  7

Title:A little life

Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 736
Publication year: 2015

When four graduates 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 centre 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.
The Author:
The Los Angeles-born writer lives in New York City and works at The New York Times. Her first book is called The people in the trees.

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