A Little Life by Hanya Yanihara

When I finished this book, I gave it a 4 star rating (out of 5) and placed in my favorites shelf, despite feeling conflicted about it. I later changed my rating to what it is now, and took the book out of my favorites shelf. 

That initial rating of the book was what I expected and hoped my experience of the book would be, but unfortunately I really hate this book. 

When I heard about this coming of age, depressing novel with a diverse group of characters, I was so excited to get around to reading this. But I felt this book’s intent was to emotionally manipulate it’s audience to the point where it leaves a strong impression, almost like a Greek tragedy.

This book follows a group of four male friends from their young adulthood years and onward as they explore their sexuality, become successful in their respective careers and learn more about one of the more mysterious group members, Jude. While that may sound somewhat lighthearted, there are extremely sensitive and potentially triggering subjects that occur in this novel like sexual abuse, self-harm and suicide.

A lot of these sensitive topics are at first shown in little pieces, with some good and then some bad, and then some good etc but at the very end there was just a whole lot of bad dumped on you. As someone who has dealt with some of these sensitive issues, it left a really bad taste in my mouth, and made me feel a lot of anger towards the author for being (in my opinion) kind of careless in putting in all these sensitive topics and frankly making one character’s life as horrible as possible, especially since it’s done to an extent where the plot becomes ridiculous. At first I thought it was just bad storytelling, but after finding out that the author wanted everything to be over the top, I was just really pissed off. I felt that the various abuses that the one character faced was used to get a strong emotional response from the reader, and the author succeeded greatly at this; While I’ve heard mainly positive reviews about this book, this book garners a strong reaction from those who read, either strongly negative or strongly positive. In that way, this may have been what the author had wanted all along.


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