A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book, y’all.

First, I should tell you about some of my concerns as I went into reading this book: I was afraid that I would become nauseaous from the drug use in this book, that the time invested in reading this book wouldn’t pay off (it’s 814 pages) and that it would be too sad. The drug use was not graphic in this book, though other topics were VERY graphic. This book is worth the time investment; I spent thirteen days reading it and NOT ONCE did I get restless to read another book. THAT NEVER HAPPENS WHEN I READ LONG BOOKS! This book is heartbreakingly sad, but it’s still well worth the read.

Rather than giving you a synopsis, I’ll tell you my takeaway from this book: childhood trauma and disability can do a lot to a person. It can impact the way they relate to others, the way they see themselves, the way they maintain relationships of all types. This exploration affected me personally. Many of my friends that I eventually lost survived childhood trauma. This novel helped me appreciate some of the ways that they treated me/how they handled our friendship. This novel also reminded me of many of the patients/clients I’ve worked with over the years, especially in mental health settings. It reminded me of the atrocities they had survived or the horrible acts they committed when in a psychotic state. When working with these clients, I was struck by how inspiring it is that people forge on despite everything that happened to them and that when they can’t forge on any longer, you can understand why.

“…when he thought, really thought of Jude and what his life had been: a sadness, he might have called it, but it wasn’t a pitying sadness; it was a larger sadness, one that seemed to encompass all the poor striving people, the billions he didn’t know, all living their lives, a sadness that mingled with wonder and awe at how humans everywhere tried to live, even when their days were so difficult, even when their circumstances so wretched. Life is so sad, he would think in those moments. It’s so sad, and yet we all do it. We all cling to it; we all search for something to give us solace.”

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