A little life; my thoughts.

It is truly remarkable that upon turning the cover of a book, one has no idea what they are yet to discover; not really. They may be equipped with a synopsis, a blurb, some reviews… but one can never predict the emotions a piece of work will invoke until the act is experienced firsthand. When I picked up ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara, this was exactly the case. I did not expect to fall into one hundred ditches, fly one thousand heights, or to have emotions torn and tossed like KitKat wrappers one million times. I did not expect for my vision to improve, my brain to haze or my heart to ache. I did not expect to feel beads of sweat prickle from my hot skin in moments of tension, or for that to turn to hungry, furious steam at every turn of a page. I did not expect for it to resonate so inexplicably strongly with myself, as though it was something the world had wanted me to hear for a long, long time.

The character of Jude is tormenting to read. You cannot help but fall in love with his kind hearted yet vulnerable nature. This is consequently infuriating when you discover his innate self hatred, and how he views himself through a tinted, skewed, smashed mirror. There is so much more I wish to discuss within his character and his relationships with others, but I think key points would be his relationship with Willem and Andy. His main struggle when being with another person comes from his sense of undeservedness, which is deeply saddening and somewhat maddening. Seeing cracks appear in a seemingly perfect relationship, however, teaches the valid life lesson that no relationship is smooth all the way. And most importantly, that this is okay. The writing is deeply intricate about his romantic life and how the protagonist’s past affects his present and future. I suppose it is true that your past will always haunt you. It made me feel nauseous with the realisation that some people in life truly feel this way- that however much they trust a person and trust their love, they will never feel secure or worthy. This has to be what produced one of the largest emotional responses in me. His relationship with his doctor, Andy, is also intriguing though. The reader watches an emotional journey of trust develop- which is a huge milestone for the character of Jude- however it reaches a point where their emotional investment intrudes on Andy’s professional decision making skills. Equally, professional decisions would not be able to be made as effectively by a doctor who did not know all of Jude’s past in the way that Andy did. It really is an ethical debate! As much as i’d love to, I will restrain from revealing too much incase anyone has not read this book yet.

What I can discuss, though, is the open nature in which Yanagihara discusses ‘taboo’ topics. I loved this beyond words (although it has faced much controversy). I think that the way sexuality, relationships, abuse, illness and suicide was explored so freely made it a liberating read. It is undeniable that most families face one of the above at some point in their lives, so perhaps such conflict arises from self denial. However, I personally embraced the way they were approached not as controversial topics, but as things that affect the best of us; things that need to be spoken about.

A book has never had such ability to produce tears from me as much as this one did. It was so easily forgettable that the writing was fiction, because it was packed with so much truth and wisdom that one cannot muster from nowhere. It taught me to talk about issues, to accept flaws, to stop asking and start doing, and most importantly to be myself. It sounds exaggerative to go to this extent, but my view of the world really did change as soon as the back cover kissed the front and my heart strings snapped from its ending. I think it bought me out of a drunken perspective of the world and really sobered me up a little, and I also think that a few more of us could do with a read like that.

Below are two poems I wrote about the protagonist Jude, when in emotional turmoil surrounding his suicidal thoughts:


Sullen winds whispered through

Window pane cracks;

Frost lining the sill and sitting,

Sometimes spitting,

Through dense air and

Minds so confused.

Eyebrow hairs stood on end

From the tug of war between

Myself and I;

a stress response of the

Naive and unknowing.


Refreshing was the mind when

Kissed with new oxygen,

Slathered with inspiration and

Assaulted with new ideas.

Refreshed was the mind

When not dampened with the past

And soiled with the present.

Refreshed was the mind,

With the freezing of the future.

And with that,

The freezing of fate.


It rung in the air like a bell;

Supported by an untiring arm and

Awakening the tales that taunted my tongue.

I bit to taste the tinny treat

Of simultaneous reward

and overdue revenge.

How this fate was obtained,

I did not know,

But I did know

That each rustle of the branch

mocked my past

And each clip of a heel

predicted my future;

An undeserving soup of

Regret, redemption,

Trust, turmoil;


Self-pity enveloped my body and

I tear myself free;

A letter to never be posted-

Nor received.


2 thoughts on “A little life; my thoughts.

  1. Woah, this review is the most creative and passionate one that I’ve ever read. It literally makes me want to buy the book right now and go through the same emotions that you did. Really good review and sounds like an incredible and life changing book


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