a little life

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A Little Life
By Hanya Yanagihara
736 pages; Doubleday

Why Your Book Club Will Love It: This book about friendship will have you (passionately) debating how much our BFFs can—and can't—save us from our inner demons.

The Burning Questions: Does our childhood define us? How much of a difference can friends and lovers make?

What to Bring to Your Meeting: Kleenex. It's that moving.

Prepare yourself: This spellbinding, feverish novel sucks you in to the struggle of sensitive, brilliant, young Jude as he tries to survive his never-discussed childhood. That childhood—slowly, hauntingly revealed to the reader over hundreds of pages in a feat of writing that mimics how memory works in those who try to suppress it—turns out to be one long, savage nightmare of abuse. How Jude tries to create a life in spite of it, not just succeeding professionally as an attorney, but also attempting to develop trust and intimacy with a group of friends, is one of the most compassionate, moving stories of our time. Yes, you'll feel for Jude and the horrors he endured. But you will also be transformed by the efforts of his ad hoc family of roommates, professors, neighbors and co-workers who never give up on loving him, even when "proof of your friendship lay in ... turning and walking away when the door was shut in your face instead of trying to force it open again." An exquisitely written, complex triumph.
Leigh Newman