A LITTLE LIFE by Hana Yanagihara

It is really quite difficult to put into words the raw power of this novel. It is not just the utterly brilliant writing, mesmerising and completely engrossing, the author's  incredible insight into human nature, the mind, emotions.  It is also the story, in all its horror, tragedy and human-ness, of a life, not so little as it turns out, of Jude, and his lifelong friends who all meet each other while teenagers at boarding school - Jude, JB, Malcolm and Willem. There are also a few other characters pivotal to Jude's existence - his doctor Andy, his parents Harold and Julia and neighbour Richard. It becomes apparent very early on that some awful things have happened to Jude as a child, and with meticulous timing through the course of the 800-odd pages, Jude's early life is revealed. It is hardly surprising the legacy this abuse leaves on Jude as he grows to adult hood, desperately trying to ignore and hide his early life, and how this affects his relationships with those who love him, and who he so heavily depends on.

It is utterly compelling, horrific, confronting and heartbreaking. There were numerous times that I had to put this book down for short periods, it is so overwhelming in its writing and its content. Plus I had some very peculiar and vivid dreams over the course of the week that it took to read it. Not the usual reaction one would have to a novel! I loved the characters, for their goodness and their badness, their human-ness, their very existence and deep deep love not only for Jude, but also for each other. I do have to say that it is probably too long, about 200 pages too long, and numerous other on line reviewers have made the same comment. At times it is exhausting to read because it is so challenging, but it is so absorbing that once you have come up for air, you just have to dive back in and keep going. A little life that leaves a huge footprint on the lives of others. 

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