A Little Life Book Review

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720 pages


Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age, Literary Fiction

 There were times when the pressure to achieve happiness felt almost oppressive as if happiness were something that everyone should & could attain, and that any sort of compromise in its pursuit was somehow your fault  


 I can definitely say that this book is more of a personal experience for each reader, I can’t sit here and recommend it to just anyone. It had its amazing moments and its horrible moment, I will try to articulate them but I don’t think I will do any justice or add anything new that hasn’t been said by the those who have reviewed it (As usual I am late to the party).

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The book essentially follows four college friends ( Jude, Willem, JB, Malcolm) dealing with youth, career paths, identity and all sort of life conundrums. We follow them as they grow up, get old and unravel past secret especially from one of them (Jude)*TRIGGER WARNING FOR EVERYTHING* we uncover his dark (understatement) past and we see how it affects his current future life & relationships.

“None of them really wanted to listen to someone else’s story anyway; they only wanted to tell their own.”

Personally, I am glad I picked this book at my current age because it mirrored my thoughts and resonated with me in a very intimate way. The process of rediscovering yourself in a world that has no compass to which way is right was showcased through the four characters especially in their college days. They struggled to believe in themselves, insecurities, dependency on friendship, careers, new experience and just the struggle to wake up every morning and face the challenges are things that really resonated with me and I was sure this book will stick with me for a long time. It was complex in its character study the author doesn’t just glance at certain themes, she straight up dissects them and opens up a whole array of discussion especially when it came to friendship, sexuality, mental illness etc. It did come with some major flaws though

“Friendship was witnessing another’s slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honoured by the privilege of getting to be present for another person’s most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return.”


The emphasis on friendship both the contrast & complexities felt genuine but halfway through the book when all the abuse start unfolding my empathy for the characters/character (Jude) was spread out so thin that I started to get angry. I have heard negative reviews deem this book as “torture porn “& I can kind of see that. It felt like the author was having fun coming up with different ways to incorporate the worst scenario into these characters lives. I was like ” Oh! This can’t get any worse” (Shockingly it does ) “Come on Woman give me some time to breath” ( Two pages later terrible thing happens) 😂 it could have done better with a little less torture. That sort of experience led me to believe that I will never reread this book for my own emotional sanity. The suspension of disbelief is necessary when it comes to Jude‘s childhood because to some degree it came off as a bit outlandish. I have had some experience with mental illness both in literature and personal life, I was 50/50 about the way it was handled maybe it’s the overwhelming amount of trauma, It felt more about the problems than the solution in some way hence making the character of Jude feel underdeveloped in some way.

“Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?” 

In the end, I realized that I emotionally connect with some of the characters ( I mean I spent 700pages with them), the writing was very approachable and some quotes will haunt me and sustain me for the rest of my life.The pacing was slow but considering it’s a character-driven narrative that shouldn’t come as a surprise. As I stated earlier this is a very personal experience for each reader so recommending this book wouldn’t be fair but if you are at all interested and are aware of the graphic nature ( You will never be prepared for it) I say give it ago. Polarising as it may seem online I still think this book that has a lot more beauty and depth 👌

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Have you read it or at all interested in it? Tell me your experience if you have… Thank you for Reading?

 So until next time stay Bookish 😉








13 thoughts on “A Little Life Book Review

  1. Pretty much my thoughts exactly. I am also very torn about the LGBT representation. On the one hand it was good considering some of the relationships but on the other hand considering Judes past and in some ways present, it was incredibly harmful. Great review! 🙂


  2. Great review! This book literally ruined my soul. It was a profound read that really affected me. And I think I’m glad i read this book while I’m still in my twenties, because there were so many things that i related to. And I totally agree with you on the fact that it’s really not a good idea to reread this book, because it’s so emotionally draining. i liked Jude, but his traumatic childhood felt too much sometimes, especially the rape scenes. I just wish the author didn’t elaborate in specific details, because sometimes i couldn’t handle reading about that, it was heart wrenching. Like seriously, just looking at the book makes me feel so depressed. That’s why I’ll never reread it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading 🙌 You sum up my thoughts I am glad I finally read it but will I reread it nope😅 The emotional impact and dedication left me exhausted like physically but I can finally chime in on the conversation 👌 Jude was complicated even for me and I usually love complicated characters and the tense scenes from his past angered me all in all it was one hell of a read

      Liked by 1 person

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