A Little Life is without a doubt one of the most difficult novels I've read in a while. Not because of its language, but because of the characters and what happens to them. These characters become more than fictional ideas; they become people and the more you read of their lives, the more their stories feel like hazy memories and forgotten nightmares. I described the plot as "plodding" because it at times can read quite slowly though that doesn't detract from the interest of the novel. Yanagihara's strength is creating characters and she displays that strength with such ferocity that, despite the story feeling like a very long biography of several characters, you're following every painful word and left with its lingering presence in your mind.
Moving to New York to pursue creative ambitions, four former classmates share decades marked by love, loss, addiction, and haunting elements from a brutal childhood.