“A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara is the most beautiful book I’ve ever read, and I can thank BookTok for the recommendation. Yanagihara’s use of language and description allows the reader to immerse themself in the worlds she puts forth. Each second you spend with the characters, the more you find yourself wishing for more time with each and every one of them.
The story follows the lives of four college roommates, honing in on the life of Jude St. Francis, a character who suffered a life unthinkable to most. His inability to come forward and discuss the things that happened in his childhood sends him into a spiral to which the reader bears witness. Despite the book’s intensity, Yanagihara’s beautiful language ensures that the reader can’t pull away. For example, take a small passage that provides insight into the author’s in-depth imagery and beautiful diction:, “He’d watch that kind light suffuse the car like syrup, watch it smudge furrows from foreheads, slick gray hairs into gold, gentle the aggressive shine from cheap fabrics into something lustrous and fine” (Yanagihara 31).
I adore each page of this novel. There are many lines that will stick with me for the rest of my life, such as, “And so I try to be kind to everything I see, and in everything I see, I see him” (Yanagihara 814.)But its beauty also doubles as my word of caution. Yanagihara’s ability to draw the reader in creates an immersive experience, one in which you yourself live through Jude’s little life. However beautiful the book may be, I cannot recommend it. The intense emotions of friendship and found family cover the harrowing emotions of past trauma, but if you’re not ready to feel those effects, I suggest you hold off. Though, once you feel ready, “A Little Life” will become the most extraordinary book you’ve ever read.