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The Growl

Book review- ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara


New York Times Bestseller, “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara is a novel that follows the story of four graduates from a New England university. All four of them decide to establish their adult lives in New York. All different personalities yet still close friends: Willem Ragnarsson, who is the son of a Wyoming rancher, as well as a waiter who is an inspiring actor; Malcolm Irvine, who comes from a wealthy family on the Upper East Side, and wants to be an architect; JB Marion, who is a child of Haitian immigrants, who is trying to make his place in the art world; finally Jude St. Francis, an amazing lawyer, but deeply troubled.

As readers, we follow the lives of these men. Over time the group drifts apart, some come together, and some deal with addictions. But in reality, it is the character Jude who is at the center of it all. His body damaged by injury and childhood trauma is what keeps the reader interested. I first heard about this book over a year ago on social media. When BookTok was trending on TikTok, this one happened to be one of the popular recommendations so it piqued my interest. Even my English teacher told me he had never cried as much as he did with this book. 

Normally I would go for a fictional romance novel, so I took a chance with something different.  “A Little Life” which has themes such as trauma, friendship, and identity is undeniably sad and will impact the reader. This book is a challenging read, but I honestly enjoyed every second of it. Every character and every emotion that is created in this novel is nothing but beautiful and intense. The way Yanagihara formats the book into chapters with segments and intermissions is wonderfully written. Yanagihara tackles the issues such as friendship, addiction, abuse, and mental illness realistically.

The characters’ love for one another is truly inspiring. It’s real raw unconditional love that many of us wish to feel. But not everything that happens in this book seems fair, which is honestly why it is such a hard book to finish – but it is realistic and that’s what I love about it the most. I hold a special place in my heart for JB, Willem, Malcolm, and especially Jude. 

I recommend this book to anyone interested in something that will change your perspective about life. 

Favorite Quotes 

“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.” ― Hanya Yanagihara, “A Little Life”

“Wasn’t friendship its miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely? ― Hanya Yanagihara, “A Little Life”

“What he knew, he knew from books, and books lied. They made things prettier.”― Hanya Yanagihara, “A Little Life”

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About the Contributor
Valeria Conchas
Valeria Conchas, Staff Reporter
Hi, I'm Valeria! I am currently a writer at the South Hills Growl. I’ve wanted to be a part of this program since my sophomore year. Besides journalism I am also a part of ASB. On my free time I love to read and bake.
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