A Little Life

A Little Life

A Novel

eBook - 2015
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    A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara's stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group


    From the critics

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    Jan 28, 2021

    A fair warning to all looking to read A Little Life : tread lightly. The content of the book is heavy in many ways, and not suitable for all. Besides frightening and upsetting content, A Little Life is a tragedy in many ways. The book follows a group of four friends, tied together by their relationship to Jude St. Francis, a member of the friend group with a tragic and unspeakable past. The novel follows the group in their personal experiences, all while revealing Jude’s past, accounting for his person and role in the story. Heartbreaking, yet captivating at the same time, A Little Life tells the reader about life, love, struggle, heartbreak, death, and growing old, all in 700 or some pages. A Little Life is an interesting and complicated novel in that there is no direct evidence of what time period it has taken place in, but it is so native to New York. Each street, restaurant, and location mentioned in the novel is true to New York’s layout, which puts you directly in the story, almost creating the feeling like you are able to live with the beloved characters. As mentioned, this book includes a lot of heavy content, which makes it a challenging read. This book shouldn’t make you feel happy, and is not a generally happy story. Unwinding the story of Jude is a difficult process, and the conclusion of the book, in all honesty, did not make me feel good. I would give this book 3/5 stars, as it does describe a fantastic and interesting story, but does propose a challenge in the content and the process of reading, as well as an overwhelming feeling of sadness.
    @readingmouse of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

    Dec 21, 2020

    The characterizations are top notch, I felt an intense connection to the characters, such that I was deeply emotionally impacted by the traumas they experience. I feel like the book has a lot to say about trauma, it is perhaps a bit overwrought with descriptions of the horrible traumas one character in particular experienced, but I feel like it illustrates well a point that we can never fully understand an individual's trauma and how much they may struggle with it. As someone who works in mental health, this novel has inspired me to reaffirm my use of trauma informed care. I still find myself tearing up at some thoughts of the outcomes for a few of the characters, this is a very cathartic read. This is not a book that everyone should read, it has a lot of triggering content, I would take caution before reading it if you feel that it may upset you/remind you of your own trauma.

    Dec 06, 2020

    I love my partner more after having read this book because of its elegant observations on love.

    Oct 29, 2020

    this book is AMAZING!!! its one of the few books that's kept my attention and the story is wonderful, and its beautifully written

    LCPL_Krystyna Oct 27, 2020

    This is a very polarizing book, you'll either love it or hate it. It's a very dark and brutal story, with vivid characters, and beautiful writing. This discusses very heavy, depressing, and triggering topics, so proceed with caution. I would not recommend this to everyone.

    Sep 27, 2020

    A powerful book. I was given it by a friend who said try to read it.
    I am so glad I didn't read any reviews prior. I would suggest this.
    At one stage I put it down for a week afraid to continue. But I am so glad I completed it.
    I will reccomend it to very few of my discerning reading friends.
    Goes straight into my top 10.

    Thank you Hanya Yanagihara.

    Apr 15, 2020

    This is a very long, very brutal book. There is nothing little about it. While highly acclaimed by many reputable outlets, I found this book hard to get through and even harder to get into. Following a group of college friends as they make their way in the world, it starts in a very typical NYC novel manner, and then goes into very dark territory, as it explains the backstory of one of is characters, Jude. It was too much for me and veered into trauma porn. It's an impressive achievement, I suppose, but not in any way enjoyable. I felt punished.

    Apr 05, 2020

    A dreadful novel that I wish I'd never read. The New York Review of Books: "a maudlin work" ... "The abuse that Yanagihara heaps on her protagonist is neither just from a human point of view nor necessary from an artistic one." ... "a monotonous series of assaults." It's all true.

    Oct 13, 2019

    This is a book about the healing power of friendship. There are parts that are very difficult to read and their are parts that brought tears to my eyes, but through it all I marvelled at the author's ability to reveal these marvelous characters' lives. This is a book that's difficult to put down and difficult to forget. Not for everyone, but I loved it.

    Sep 17, 2019

    Wow, this is my new favourite book. It’s made me fall in love with reading again. This is the type of book you don’t want to put down. Some parts are hard to read but the whole book is incredible. Highly recommended.

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    Add Notices
    Jan 31, 2021

    Frightening or Intense Scenes: Self harm, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, disordered eating, sexual/physical abuse of a minor, forced prostitution of a minor, domestic violence, violence against a disabled person, drug abuse, loss of a child, PTSD, anxiety

    LCPL_Krystyna Oct 27, 2020

    Other: psychological abuse, substance abuse

    LCPL_Krystyna Oct 27, 2020

    Frightening or Intense Scenes: suicidal thoughts, suicidal tendencies, self-harm

    LCPL_Krystyna Oct 27, 2020

    Sexual Content: sexual abuse, rape

    LCPL_Krystyna Oct 27, 2020

    Violence: abuse

    LCPL_Krystyna Oct 27, 2020

    Coarse Language: strong language

    Mar 13, 2017

    Frightening or Intense Scenes: graphic descriptions of assault

    Mar 13, 2017

    Violence: child sexual abuse, domestic abuse

    Mar 26, 2016

    Other: self-harm

    Mar 12, 2016

    Sexual Content: rape, child molestation

    View All Notices


    Add Age Suitability
    Jan 26, 2021

    EthanHill_3 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

    Oct 29, 2018

    willtbruce thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 14 and 99

    Jun 04, 2018

    Cheito thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

    Apr 09, 2018

    cosettes thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

    Sep 08, 2016

    Hshswiss thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

    Jun 01, 2016

    booksophie thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and under

    Mar 12, 2016

    VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


    Add a Quote
    LCPL_Krystyna Oct 27, 2020

    “You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.”

    p. 63: Oh, what was wrong with him? Sex; sexuality: these too were things he should have sorted out in college, the last place where such insecurity was not just tolerated but encouraged. In his early twenties, he had tried falling in and out of love with various people…and yet still didn’t know to whom he might be attracted. He often thought that being gay (as much as he also couldn’t stand the thought of it; somehow it, like race, seemed the province of college, an identity to inhabit for a period before maturing to more proper and practical realms) was attractive mostly for its accompanying accessories, its collection of political opinions and causes and its embrace of aesthetics. He was missing, it seemed, the sense of victimization and woundedness and perpetual anger it took to be black, but he was certain he possessed the interests that would be required if he were gay.

    Aug 22, 2017

    "But what Andy never understood about him was this: he was an optimist. Every month, every week he chose to open his eyes, to live another day in the world. He did it when he was feeling so awful that sometimes the pain seemed to transport him to another state, one in which everything, even the past that he worked so hard to forget, seemed to fade into a gray watercolor wash. He did it when his memories crowded out all other thoughts, when it took real effort, real concentration, to tether himself to his current life, to keep himself from raging with despair and shame. He did it when he was so exhausted of trying, when being awake and alive demanded such energy that he had to lie in bed thinking of reasons to get up and try again, when it would be easier to go to the bathroom and untape the plastic zipped bag containing his cotton pads and loose razors and alcohol wipes and bandages from its hiding place beneath the sink and simply surrender. Those were the very bad days."

    Aug 22, 2017

    "Wasn't it a miracle to survive the unsurvivable? Wasn't friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely? Wasn't this house, this beauty, this comfort, this life a miracle? And so who could blame him for hoping for one more, for hoping that despite knowing better, that despite biology, and time, and history, that they would be the exception, that what happened to other people with Jude's sort of injury would't happen to him, that even with all that Jude had overcome, he might overcome just one more thing?"


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