A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
It took me a long time to convince myself to give this super hyped book a try. I felt sure I would be disappointed, and it was a bit of a commitment at 720 pages. Now that I've finished, though, I feel slightly at a loss what to do next. For ten days or so, I was totally absorbed by this story and the characters and it will feel strange moving on, even if it is also a bit of a relief for it to be over. The writing was excellent and despite its length, the book was never boring. That being said, it was quite relentlessly bleak with illustrations of such cruelty one never wants to imagine. People are both so kind and so horrible to Jude, yet it is the violence and viciousness of his younger years that completely defines him. Although I sympathized with him and absolutely hated what had been done, I was frustrated at times as well, wishing he could let himself be happy. It's an interesting and possibly realistic reflection on trauma, and I felt for Jude, but also for his friends and family who are so desperate to see him better and are hurt and frightened by his self-destructiveness again and again.
I can see why people would love this book and also why some readers would hate it. I mostly liked it, and the only reason I didn't at times was because it was awful and hard to read about some things that happened. A Little Life should probably come with a big TRIGGER WARNING label, and in case you are a reader triggered by descriptions of self-harm, domestic violence and abuse, you might want to stay away from this one.
I will be thinking about this book and the characters for a long time, I am sure. It's one of those books that, though not perfect, not wholly satisfying, will undoubtedly prove very memorable. I'm not quite sure what to read next. It should be something lighter probably, but knowing myself, it'll be crime fiction, what can I say;-)