A Little Life pdf Book Summary by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life pdf Book by Hanya Yanagihara was written over the course of eighteen months. Despite the length and difficult subject matter, it became a critically acclaimed bestseller.
A Little Life pdf Book tells the story about four classmates from a small Massachusetts college as they moved 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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.
In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.
A Little Life pdf Book Author – Hanya Yanagihara
Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life was born in 1975 in Los Angeles. Her father, hematologist/oncologist Ronald Yanagihara, is from Hawaii, and her mother was born in Seoul. Yanagihara is partly of Japanese descent through her father.As a child, Yanagihara moved frequently with her family, living in Hawaii, New York, Maryland, California and Texas. She attended Punahou High School in Hawaii. Her books include The People in the Trees, 2013, A Little Life, 2015, To Paradise, 2022
A Little Life pdf Book Information
- Publisher : Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (November 3, 2015)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1511358602
- ISBN-13 : 978-1511358606
- Item Weight : 4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.6 x 6.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,119,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1,717 in Asian American Literature & Fiction
- #6,193 in Books on CD
- #13,679 in Coming of Age Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars 20,130 ratings
4.0 out of 5 stars A tragic and memorable tale
Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2016
You know when someone talks to you about a “sad book,” and you immediately think, “well, someone precious is going to die at the end?” A Little Life pdf book has been called tragic, depressing, a masterpiece that you cannot get through without a wad of tissues nearby, and so naturally, I assumed someone would die at the end. I went into this book prepared to not get too attached to the characters, but it’s inevitable to not connect with people who are the subjects of an 800-page book with minimal spacing and tiny font. I’d like to think I went into this book prepared, but my preparation got me nowhere.
This novel does not lead up to a sad ending. Let me explain. Calling this novel “sad” is a massive understatement. It is 800 pages of tragedy after tragedy, because the “sad” doesn’t follow the pattern we are used to. It’s not happy and pleasant until the end where something sad happens- no, this book is a depressing hunk of paper with very little happiness in it. A Little Life pdf book is a long, winding tunnel spotted with skylights. You walk forward in the darkness with a couple of friends, and you are struck with sadness after sadness. Your friends get lost in the tunnel, you fall and break your arm, and then the tunnel gives you a foot of light where you can look around and take a breather before plunging yourself into the darkness. You don’t know what’s at the end, because the tunnel gives you no hints. You don’t know if you’ll exit into the open. You don’t know if you’ll hit a dead-end, but you keep on walking because by this point, your masochism has kicked in and you’re addicted to the torture.
We follow the stories of four characters, all college-friends who have moved from Boston to New York City in order to fulfill their dreams. Malcolm is an aspiring architect- timid and shy, whose overbearing parents are his pride and shame. JB is a painter- arrogant, optimistic and full of life, JB is the only one among his friends who is certain he will make it in life. Willem is an actor, calm and steady who has no family but his three best friends. But while the three have their own lives, their bond is strengthened by the presence of one Jude St. Francis. Jude is enigmatic. Despite having been friends for years, nobody knows anything about him; not his ethnicity or his sexuality. They don’t know anything about his childhood or his years before attending university. Jude has an injury; an accident severely limited the use of his legs, but nobody even knows how this came to be. But Jude is quiet, and he is kind and generous and dependent. And so the three friends lend their shoulders silently for him to lean on. This book is not set in one time period: years and decades pass, and each character matures, develops and experiences success and the perils of life, sometimes together, other times apart. As the narrative progresses, one thing becomes crystal clear: Jude has gone through an unspeakable childhood trauma. He is fragile and broken, battling so hard with inner demons that never seem to leave him.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed, plot-centered novel, put this book down and walk far, far away. A Little Life pdf book reads more like an in-depth character study than anything else. Despite there being a large, diverse, well-fleshed out cast of characters- make no mistake: this novel is about Jude. This novel is about Jude’s life, his depression, his experiences, his feelings of pain and insurmountable shame. It is a story about Jude’s relationships and his impact on the people around him. It is a story about love and loss, of betrayal and friendship, of perseverance and giving in. And because it follows the story of such a broken, intense young man, it is a difficult read.
It is a difficult read in more ways than one. Firstly, it is 800 pages long with very little action, with large chunks of paragraphs detailing the little moments in life, detailing theorems and laws and art and literature. Large chunks that talk about family, sex, career and the meaning of love- things that may not even need to be in the book. These large chunks familiarize you with our characters’ backgrounds, their introspections and streams of consciousness, their experiences with each other and outside of their immediate relationships. The characters in this novel feel real; more than once, I felt like I could reach out and touch them. They feel like friends, comrades you’ve known for a long, long time. Their happiness genuinely excites you, and their sadness genuinely devastates you. You also become so invested in their relationships with each other, almost as if you’re a mediator.
Apart from the thematic material, what makes this novel so hard to digest is the characters. I’m not exaggerating when I say that they feel like friends- watching them suffer through unimaginable things hurt me. I have never felt this way before. Halfway through the book, I had already cried at least twice, excluding the point where I sobbed for ten pages straight. And then again after. Yanagihara’s empathetic portrayal of human nature, of human decency and monstrosity is so spot-on. I don’t know what else I can say.
Secondly, it is brutal in its honest, unflinching portrayal of mental illness. There were several moments in this novel where I had to set the book aside and steady my breathing. It is uncomfortable. It depicts self-harm and depression graphically but not gratuitously, with sensitivity without doing it for “the shock factor.” Finally, the constant jumps in time frame makes this book far from a casual read. You need to keep up. Each ‘section’ takes place a few years after the previous one, but sometimes Yanagihara alternates time within paragraphs as well. One time you’re seeing the friends’ lives when they are 35, and you jump back in the middle of a paragraph to when they are 28. It can be quite jarring if you’re not paying attention.
But having said that, Yanagihara’s writing is easy to keep up with. Daunting as it may be with its intelligent discussion of many themes (some of which I mentioned above) and the sheer scale of the book, her writing is welcoming. Complex, full of emotion and genuine feeling, full of ‘quotable’ things without it ever being overbearing or ‘too much.’ Authors writing in the literary fiction genre so often give off the impression that they need to prove something, but Yanagihara writes with effortless grace and poise. She’s not trying to prove anything; this is her in 800 pages- take it or leave it.
But despite all my praises, this is not a perfect book. My main complaint is the length. Bear with me. I have no problems with lengthy books, as long as the length is justified. Many will probably disagree with me, but I felt that the novel could have been cut short by at least 50 or 100 pages. For example, towards the beginning, we get such an in-depth look into JB and Malcolm’s characters, much of which doesn’t come back after the first section. Perhaps their backgrounds could have been weaved more seamlessly into the narrative as the book went along. A lot of the objective discussions about science and mathematics were beautifully written, sure, but didn’t feel like they needed to be there. But I’ve got to give Yanagihara this: despite the length, and despite the discussions on objective topics, I was hanging on to her every word. I didn’t skim a single page- I was just that invested.
So, here we are. You and me at the mouth of the tunnel. I made it out, and you’re asking me if you should take the chance. “It’s difficult. It’s long. It’s even terrifying at times, but-” and I prod you into the darkness, “it’s also exhilarating and beautiful and one hell of an experience.”
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.75-Stars: Excruciating and Diabolical, but Masterfully Written
Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2019
I finished Hanya Yanagihara’s emotionally draining, ‘A Little Life’ pdf book, over three months ago and in the time since, I felt I needed to recover from her roller coaster of a novel. Imagine though a roller coaster that is on fire, but has classical music playing on its back row as it dips and ascends into screaming terror and melancholic euphoria.
Upon completing this novel, I was fatigued, drained, and spent of my emotions because I have never equally hated and admired a book so much in my literary life. On two occasions while reading, I took a shot of tequila to get through particular sections. Sections where when the tequila did not help, I put the book down because the book’s content read like being hit by a Mack truck at full speed. Nothing in this novel is subtle, as a matter of fact, I equate reading it to a jackhammer puncturing hard-baked cement and you the reader is the cement. The storytelling is piercing, with plangent themes that gutted my insides, and it is so visceral that it ostensibly paints Yanagihara to be a sadistic fiend for unleashing a literary work such as this. She’s of course not, she’s simply a good writer who knows how to bring a heartbreaking story to life.
Yes, ‘A Little Life’ pdf book is an agonizing read, but one that was masterfully written, offering all manner of literary rewards. Employing use of a dense, particularized writing style, Yanagihara’s prose is architectural, cerebral, and drawn out at a pace that is like molasses rolling up a sand dusted hill. From page one, I found the four protagonists to be engaging, but forebodingly so, where I immediately knew that there will be a lot to unpack in the subsequent pages ahead. Though the novel’s setting is contemporary, Yanagihara tells it in an odd but effective flashback mixed with present day style where the context of time is always abstract. Specific dates or years are never used, instead we get descriptors such as “nine years ago,” “on his fifth birthday,” “four years after…” This approach bothered me initially, because it made some of the flashback scenes less textural. But Yanagihara is such a good writer, she made the technique work, as it became tolerable as I read on. Again, nothing in this novel is subtle or plain, but despite the elaborately detailed descriptions, which I admired, the novel is readable. Although, I think some readers may find it to be plodding.
For me, I think one of Yanagihara’s strength as a writer is her ability to flesh out characters as if they were filigree, branching them out far and wide, but characters that have a centered, yet deeply flawed souls. As well written as each of the characterizations are here, I admit that I dislike every one of them. The four protagonists – Jude, Willem, Jean-Baptist, and Malcolm, plus two major secondary ones, Andy, and Harold – all made my emotions seesaw from vexation to sympathy, but mostly vexation. Jude, the center of the novel’s story, is especially maddening. He is a self imposed martyr, at times grating, and is in constant need of attention, attention that is wanted or not. Yet, I couldn’t help but be heartbroken for him due to his disquieting childhood and unenviable lot in life.
Another source of frustration was that ‘A Little Life’ pdf book has in my opinion, an uncomfortable air of incestuous camaraderie between the six protagonists, a bothersome co-dependency that drove me up the wall. Everyone in Jude’s life – Willem, Jean-Baptist, Malcolm, Andy, and Harold, individually and collectively coddle him to such an extant that it borders on criminal. I was bothered that each of these characters allowed their hubris and selfishness to take precedence over the necessary tough love that Jude needed. The enabling and coddling became reductive, and peeved me so badly that I yelled out at my book several times. Still, despite my irritation at the imbecilic actions of the characters, I couldn’t help but regress into pity and gut-wrenching grief for each of their lives. Eventually, my dislike of the characters became irrelevant, as I don’t think characters have to be likable in order to be effective. At any given time, I was mad at each of them, but in their frustrating behavior, they made me think long and hard about human frailty.
Despite my frustrations, and even at 720 densely packed pages, ‘A Little Life’ is a worthy read. Make no mistake, as it did me, this is a novel that will peel your insides and likely wreck you. There were moments where I could only read certain chapters in short spurts, with breaks between paragraphs because the content is so unsettling. Nevertheless, I read it all, because even though this is a fictional story, I can’t help but think that it is the life that some unfortunate souls have lived, and or are living right now.
I highly recommend ‘A Little Life’ pdf book, but again be warned, the content is visceral, EXCRUCIATING, and unrelenting. The depravity and evil that Yanagihara has showcased in these pages is unreal, and is unlike any I’ve ever read. As you progress though the novel, prepare yourself before reading pages 323-340, 392-403, 417-423. The entire book is not easy to get through, but these pages are especially ungodly. I don’t care who you are or how strong you are, I think this book is one that will wreck most. I give it 4.75 stars out of 5 for the writing, the themes, and the fleshed out characterizations, even though the novel as a whole is positively diabolical.
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