A Little Life begins as a story about four broke friends with high ambitions but turns into what is really a story about one character. Over the course of decades, we follow Jude, the brightest of the four of them but also the most damaged. Despite a horrifying past that he is withholding from everyone around him, he goes on to have a successful career in law. Though he excels at his job he continues to fight depression and can’t connect with others intimately. The story of his childhood trauma is revealed slowly and in horrifying fashion.
The book has a great use of language which makes it a smooth reading experience despite the tough content matter. I found it to be overwritten in many areas. Things that could have been assumed without explanation are constantly reinforced. It’s written to put the one character through the worst possible situations time and time again until it becomes unrealistic. Obviously, these issues need to be talked about, but to say that this kid somehow stumbles on the worst people on earth time and again, and have these people do things in a way that only a writer could make up seems to detract from the real issues it’s addressing. It overdramatizes situations that are already traumatic and don’t need to be fluffed up. Nevertheless, it gets you thinking about them. So as we follow Jude throughout his life, we are given a beautiful story of friendship. The people in Jude’s life have to be the most supportive people I’ve ever read, but he doesn’t open up to any of them, so they can’t get him to stop blaming himself for his past. I was hoping to have a takeaway as to what all of this torture and utter hopelessness meant but I came up empty. Despite my mixed feelings on this one, I can assure it will destroy your emotions. I see why people love this book and it does have parts that are great, but the journey was not one that I intend on reliving.
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Date Finished: April 2, 2018