This story is a heartbreaker.
A Little Life, the second book by Hanya Yanagihara entangles the kind of cruelty that makes your bones ache and the power of unconditional love of fate bound friends and family.
The story, four college friends that create an unlikely lifelong collection. We learn each of their backgrounds and walk with them through their lifetime together, their secrets, successes, failures and the moments but may or may not be able to be forgiven.
An artist, an architect, a lawyer, and an actor.
The story is not a light read. It’s over 800 pages, and the themes include child abuse, prostitution, rape, addiction, self-hurt and suicide. These serious subject matters are tempered with beautiful moments of love, hope, and even joy.
The book was painful to read, the ability for humans to be so brutal was nearly impossible to understand. The way evil was able to destroy the future by its deeds of the past. But these three unlikely new friends gave him his first safe place.
Jude, the main character was mistreated until he began college, and then in his 30’s dated an evil man, in Jude’s mind proving he was unworthy of any more. Jude believed that his past defined him, that he was tainted, disgusting and unloveable.
Those who loved him wished he could see him as they did.
Yet, every time he moved forward, he would be pulled back into the shadows. His hyenas, past memories, circled him day and night.
Judes’ champions were people that became his family over the course of the story. He was loved like a son, a brother, a friend and a husband.
The moments of tenderness, fierce protection, patience, and absolute devotion were intended fuel for Jude to see himself thru their eyes, a brilliant, caring, lovable human deserving of love.
I cried reading the unimaginable experiences of Jude, not the fiction of the story, but the fact that his story is happening tonight to humans in the world. And I was inspired by the efforts of those that loved him to create a safe place for him.
But all the relationships in the book faced all the real pressures of life. And they were seasons of their relationships but they really did love one another.
I read the book while on vacation with my parents for a long weekend. The stark contrast of my joyful upbringing and the appreciation for the life I have lived in the sunshine with people who have loved me my entire life was also part of the emotional power of this book.
Read this one, talk about with people you love. Reach out your hand and help. And if you need help, people are here.
The joy in the book: Love does not see scars and heals if you can let it in.
Ready to dig in?
A PS OF JOY: This book was given to my mom for Christmas by AJ my son, her grandson. He knows she likes cryer books. So we all have now read it, and have our own mini-book club. Feeling the love for sure.