Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

Review: A Little Life

A Little Life

A Little Life 
By Hanya Yanagihara
(Doubleday Books, Hardcover, 9780385539258, March 2015, 736pp.)

The Short of It:

This story will shatter you into a million little pieces but you need to read it anyway.

The Rest of It:

*No spoilers*

This isn’t the type of book where there is a huge plot reveal but not knowing its true subject does lend a rather precarious nature to the reading experience. Because of that, I won’t go into what the book is really about.

What I will say, is that it’s a book about friendships and relationships and the pain that comes with knowing that it’s impossible to really know everything about  a person, no matter how close you are to them.

The book spans three decades and follows the lives of four men, all friends from college. We see them at their best, and their worst. There’s Malcolm, an architect of sorts, Willem, an up and coming actor, JB, a self-absorbed but extremely talented artist and Jude, a brilliant attorney who happens to be the center of the story.

Jude is damaged by the events of the past, but he’s struggling to realize his self-worth and it’s a brutal struggle to witness. There’s pain, lots of it, heart wrenching events that will twist your stomach into knots, but the writing! It’s so damn beautiful. I read it on my Kindle and every other paragraph is highlighted because I just couldn’t stand to leave the page without marking its passage in some way.

I loved every minute I spent with this book. It’s over 700 pages long and usually, I set my reading at a good pace to finish in a reasonable amount of time, but not with this one. This one I lingered on for a long, long time.

It’s by far, the best book I’ve read this year and as soon as I turned that last page, I wanted to run out and buy a physical copy just to admire it on the shelf. THAT COVER though. Don’t click on that link unless you want a hint at what some of it’s about. It’s an image that can mean many things and let me tell you, it does.

Have I completely scared  you now? I hope not because it’s really such a wonderful book and I will continue to sing its praises until someone tells me to stop.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Goldfinch


The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
By Donna Tartt
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316055437,  October 2013, 784pp.)

The Short of It:

Memory, in and of itself, has the ability to restore and destroy.

The Rest of It:

While visiting a New York art museum, Theodore Decker, thirteen, is separated from his mother in an explosion that leaves him dazed and confused. In the immediate moments after the blast, Theo sees, and takes, a valuable painting for safekeeping. Not fully understanding what has happened or why, he stumbles out of the rubble but his life is forever frozen in time. When he realizes he has lost his dear mother, he finds himself floating through life, encountering many obstacles along the way and revisiting those final moments in the museum over and over again.

This is one hell of a book.

It’s long and I know some readers who won’t even touch it because of its length but they are really doing themselves a disservice because it is really a fine piece of work. I had planned to read it “someday” but when it was chosen for book club, I was pushed encouraged to read it a little bit sooner than I had planned and then it was awarded the Pulitzer which piqued my interest even more.

The Goldfinch  is an adventure. It meanders, there is action but not that much of it and it’s repetitive when it comes to behaviors like the excessive drinking and drug use that riddle its pages. But even with all of this going on, it’s incredibly heartbreaking and yes, beautiful. At first glance, Theo seems to be handling his loss quite well, but with each page, his pain and devastation become more real, more tangible and he becomes more reliant on the actions of others to save him. Not to mention the painting and the significance behind him taking it in the first place. Its purpose, so it seems, is to remind him of that fateful day but as it certainly does just that, it’s also a constant reminder of what he needs to do to keep it safe.

This is a book with some memorable characters too. Boris, the Ukrainian kid Theo hooks up with, is part hoodlum, part philosopher but more than anything, Theo’s best friend. Think “The Artful Dodger”. Popper, a mutt that Theo takes pity on, ends up being a loyal companion to Theo and one cannot forget Hobie, the lovable furniture maker who takes Theo in when he has nowhere else to go. These unlikely characters come together to essentially save Theo from himself, but it’s not always evident that that is what is happening. There are lots of pitfalls along the way and the journey can be tedious, but in the end, I found myself loving the story, wishing I had taken more time with the last few pages. It’s about love and trust and redemption and what’s not to like with its art world setting?

Talking about it here, I realize just how much I miss the characters. So, even though it’s long and intimidating to some, I urge you to pick it up because it’s really a book to experience first-hand.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.