“A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara is an unusual book — at least for me. The books I usually read have some conflict that needs resolving or at least there is some kind of climax they strive to.
This book tells the story of four friends and their acquaintances. It starts when they all are in their early twenties and ends 40 years later. The book is narrated from changing perspectives. Most often one of the four friends is the narrator and sometimes others do it. Sometimes the time jumps forward a few years and sometimes only a few days.
That sounds totally confusing, but it is quite suspenseful. The characters have all diverse and interesting personalities. Although there is no big excitement there, it’s always interesting to read how the lives of those friends flows and changes.
One of the four friends had a difficult childhood that is gradually revealed and one could say that the final revelation of the last bit of it is the climax. But it doesn’t feel like it, because by then you already know that something has gone really bad here.
The book demonstrates in its own very specific way how childhood experiences may have lasting and insurmountable effects on the later life.
It’s a sad book about friendship and suffering. I recommend it as the most meaningful book I’ve read this year.