Some Afterthoughts on A Little Life [part 1]

About a month ago, I finished reading the first fiction I read in the last 2 years. Before discovering this book, I didn’t read much fiction, because I feel that fictions doesn’t offer meaning and values anymore (sorry, fiction).

I was wrong.

I was searching for ‘must-read books’ and ‘books you have to read before you die’. Initially, I was looking for non-fictions, but eventually I stumbled upon some fictions. One of them is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

I don’t know what compelled me to buy the book right away from Book Depository. Is it the cover? Is it the title itself? Or the name of the author? I don’t know, but I know now that I didn’t pick the wrong one.

I recommend that you read the book first before jumping in to my post. There are a lot of characters and a long storyline.

First of all, I must say that I have a thing for a story that takes place over a long period of time. I love The Little Women and Little House on The Prairie and The Firefly Lane. The ones where you follow the characters from the beginning, so that you know what makes them who they are in the present/future. What really shapes their characters and way of thinking. It almost felt like following a person’s life from beginning to the end.

But that is for another story, today I would like to highlight some of the quotes that I like and I can relate from the book, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

  1. “But your life — no matter what you think, you have nothing to be ashamed of, and none of it has been your fault.” Letting go of your past, especially the ones that you can’t control as a child. It’s not a mistake, It’s not what you’ve done to yourself. It doesn’t define who you are now.
    Jude, and all of us, have some things we’re not in control of as a child. At least I do have that. I used to feel helpless because I was a child. I think all the time, and as the result, I don’t talk much. I let others define me, and I believe them. I believe them that I was calm and reserved and can’t talk loudly and clearly. In high school, I realized that I could do so much more, I have a voice inside me, I’m in control of myself.
    The process isn’t easy. It takes acceptance, then realization. But it’s very doable. What you want others to believe, you must believe it first.
    Months later, my family and friends couldn’t believe that I have changed so much. That all this time, this girl really can talk!
  2. “And although he tried every day to remember the promise he’d made to her, every day it became more and more remote, until it was just a memory,” sometimes we hide parts of ourselves, not wanting to admit it as ours. Because it’s too shameful and embarrassing. I definitely have many of those. But the most important part is opening up to people close to you. It may not matter much to them, what you are in the past, but becoming close to someone means sharing what you are and what you were with them. You will have something more with someone who knows what you have been through. It is an exchange.
    Still related to number 1, but more on the sharing part of the process. One thing that I notice growing up, is that we all bring with us our past and history, and if we meet someone important much later in our life, we will have so much more to share with them. 
    Our past may not define us in the present, but it is what makes us us. Therefore, it’s still part of us. 
    When I met my boyfriend 3 years ago, we were in second year of college. We already had 19 years of life without each other, meaning we won’t know each other’s complete history, but we know each other now, our current selves. I really appreciate him whenever he told me his past, because then I would understand why he acts certain way. It IS an exchange, and a gift.
  3. …but he knew: he was worried because to be alive was to worry. Life was scary; it was unknowable. Even Malcolm’s money wouldn’t immunize him completely. Life would happen to him, and he would have to try to answer it, just like the rest of them. They all — Malcolm with his houses, Willem with his girlfriends, JB with his paints, he with his razors — sought comfort, something that was theirs alone…
    Right after you think that you have it all figured out, another obstacle came in your way. Life is constant worrying and struggling. To make it through all of these, we all have that one thing we hold onto. So no matter what happens to us, we will still have that one thing.

I think that’s all I have for today. I will continue the part 2 next week.

Have you read A Little Life? What’s your favorite part of the book? Who’s you favorite character?