There is so much emotion packed between these 720 pages.
In fact, there's so much that when I sit down & try to articulate how I feel, I find all of those emotions flooding back over me & washing my words away into a jumble.
This is the story of a group of young men, and how their relationships evolve & change as they grow older. It's entirely character driven, which I feel is important to know beforehand.
I must first comment on how much I love the title of this novel.
When I pick this up book, I feel as though I am literally holding the entirety of a person's existence in my hands; the laughs and hurts and pleasures and pains that make up the human experience all expertly fashioned into paper & ink.
Like cradling a tiny universe.
When an author sets out portray a set of believable characters, individuals with their own unique personalities, careers, and passions, & then must develop them in a realistic way over the course of decades, the result is going to be a slow-paced & lengthy book.
Personally, I had no qualms taking my time & absorbing every detail Yanagihara had to offer. I felt completely involved with her characters, so much so that reading A Little Life felt much like reading about old friends.
It's the feeling of standing on the sidelines, watching someone you love fall apart with no ability to help them.
The topics presented are not to be taken lightly, and I feel as though each is given the proper consideration & significance.
This book explores the spectrum of kindness & cruelty, intentionally juxtaposing the two in a story that is beautiful & tragic all at once.
It poses the question: is a book restricted by its characters' ability to heed its own message?
My answer: No.
For the sake of keeping my review spoiler free I'll leave it at this:
I believe it is important to write stories with endings that respect the subject matter.
I enjoyed this book as much as you can enjoy something that breaks your heart multiple times. Across all those pages, I never once lost interest.
I have perhaps a handful of tweaks I would make, but I don't believe they're consequential enough to hugely impact my opinion.
Know Before You Read: Trigger Warning for Rape, Child Abuse, Physical Abuse, Drug Abuse, Suicide, and Self-Harm, would not recommend for those who may be uncomfortable reading about these topics.