A Little Life Review
A Little Life, The book is about four friends and they’re living in nyc. and i guess it does really tell us about their different perspectives but really the book is about one main character jude. and it’s about their relationships as it pertains to jude the main characters are jude willem malcolm and jb.
a little life
by Hanya Yanagihara
they met in college but now they’re living in nyc. and you see them all grow up the book is mainly written in third person. but the way it’s written is so i guess sublime that you don’t even recognize that it’s in third person it’s like there’s no separation between you and the character.
so now i’m going to discuss certain elements of the book so there are going to be lots of spoilers this book comes with a lot of trigger warnings so i will list those in the description box i’ll start with a good moment because i feel that would be easier so one of the best moments for me was when harold who is a sort of mentor to jude.
and they form a relationship that is so loving and warm that harold and his wife julia decide that they want to adopt jude. this is so heartwarming and it’s so beautiful and it’s so pure it’s it really was one of the highlights in the book. for me and i’ll explain why when i get to the bad points i wanted to be adopted by harold and julia even though i have my own family but it was just the idea that you love someone so much that you would adopt an adult a full-grown adult that was really special.
and that’s it you know those are the points those are the good points that really stand out to me so now we’re moving on to the bad points so just to summarize jude was abandoned as a child and he grew up in a monastery. where these brothers kind of adopted him and brought him up early on in the book you understand that he was physically and emotionally abused at the monastery. but then the abuse just gets worse the scenes become more graphic bear in mind this all begins when he’s a child and it’s very very hard to read it’s very hard to get through.
and what hanya yanagihara does is she splits up she splits up these torturous moments so that you only get a bit and then you come back to the present and then you get another bit and then you come back to the present. so on the one hand you’re given some mercy from all of this sadness but on the other hand you don’t realize that there’s more coming. just when you think it doesn’t get any worse somehow it manages to and you just think you know how is it possible for one person to have gone through all of this trauma.
is it even survivable at this point in jude’s adult life he forms a relationship with a character called caleb. now you can just tell that caleb is not going to be a good person that caleb is not a good guy. just from the way that the author describes him caleb is almost a caricature of a evil person. like there’s no redeeming qualities that this man has they embark on a relationship and he abuses jude when they’re finally not together anymore.
and jude is able to you know escape from caleb caleb comes back in a way that is so horrendous so graphic and it’s just so much torture and terribleness. it’s just and something i always want to think about when something bad happens is well what is the lesson here what is the what is it to learn here i don’t see that anything good came out of that situation at all it was just evil 101 it was evil before it got to that horrific scene i was frustrated with jude for even allowing this relationship to unfold.
and i was fascinated with jude because this felt very much like a pattern from his past like caleb represents a lot of the men that he has dealt with in the past. and it really just it really speaks to that pattern of people going to what they’re used to going to the trauma that they know and i know i’m blaming the victim here obviously it’s not true’s fault like i could see that it wasn’t going to end well.
and it really flawed my expectations willem and jude eventually embark on a relationship together and i didn’t like it this might be in a popular opinion and i’ll tell you why i didn’t like it to me willem and jude’s relationship felt very brotherly to me it felt so pure and innocent and loving like the kind of love that surpasses friendship that is more like a brotherhood. and so for me when it became a romantic relationship it felt like incest.
but obviously it wasn’t incest but the second reason why i didn’t like that relationship was i just felt that jude has been through enough. he doesn’t need the weight of a relationship on him if anyone was allowed to tap out of societal norms it’s jude he deserves that right i think relationships can be a bit more selfish than friendships there’s a level of giving that you have to give in a relationship.
that is very different to a friendship one example of that is the physical side of romantic relationships. the intimacy that’s required and i felt like it was so unfair for william to impose that on jude and even in the book he also suspects that jude is not enjoying it but he continues anyway which is a red flag for me.
i thought that was so selfish of willem i really didn’t like it so they also touch on jude’s sexuality and the fact that he actually doesn’t know what that is and that’s valid because he’s never been given the chance to explore that himself. it has always been thrust upon him choice and exploration was taken away from him he doesn’t even know what he likes and for me the relationship between willem and jude felt very much like the power dynamic was in willem’s favor.
i felt like jude was very appreciative of having a friend like william and would have done anything that willem asked i you know i reckon if william said let’s run away to antarctica and just live there. jude would have probably been like you know when’s the flight yeah i wasn’t i wasn’t sure about it but if jude is happy i’m happy and it seemed like it did make jude happy.
i kind of foresaw willem’s death just because i felt like it would be a turn of events for someone else to die before jude because the expectation is you know jude has so many injuries so much pain that he’s gone through self-harms a lot and he’s already had suicide attempts so the natural conclusion is that his life would be a very short one and obviously i think sometimes when we assume things that’s when life just circumvents it and flips it on its head when william downed i wasn’t really surprised.
Malcolm and sophie that came out of nowhere i don’t know what hanya was thinking could like what was the reason. one of the reasons there was no reason so yeah those deaths are very very tragic they’re very hard on jude you know he’s lost the person who he is closest to in his life jude is the person that deserves the most happiness.
yeah it’s it’s just very very sad he also has his legs amputated which again is super sad it just feels like everything is being taken away from him there was okay so one other point that really really cut me deep no pun intended was jude was living in a motel with brother luke who is this man who is prostituting jude at one point.
jude starts his self-harm by throwing himself against the walls and when brother luke learns of this he says no no don’t do that and then provides jude with cutting materials to start cutting himself with i was i was just i was just like what.
like that that part really shocked me i mean a lot of it a lot of it was shocking but that part really really shocked me i was i was really trying to think of why. i couldn’t wrap my head around that part that was really that was another low point for me one thing that i’ve recognized that a lot of people said and even i like halfway through the book i was like this is a great book.