One of the most heartbreaking and heart-wrenching books I have ever read. For people who get triggered easily, this is not the book for you. Everything about it had me in absolute tears. You know when you read one of those books that make you question what life is, and makes you feel so grateful for the life handed to you? This was one of those.
This book ponders on friendship, loss, childhood trauma and so much more. Four friends in their 30s figuring out life as it goes, each going through their own set of dilemmas. The main character, Jude, who I couldn’t help but feel so sorry for the entire book. His friends: Willem, JB, and Malcolm. They were always curious about what had happened to Jude because he simply refused to talk about his life before he became a lawyer. I loved their friendship. Especially that of Willem and Jude, that later turned out to be something way more intimate, something close to my heart. I loved the refreshing relationship between Harold and Julia with Jude, who later adopted Jude and gave him everything his childhood lacked.
Jude’s childhood was nothing less than a nightmare. To have to wake up at the age of eight, and find yourself being exploited by people you love, who claim to love you, to wake up confined in someone’s basement, being abused, not just emotionally, but sexually, can be a life-altering experience for anyone. Your childhood, naivety, is snatched from you before you even gain consciousness of the world around you. The end had me feeling conflicting emotions. I was so heartbroken for Jude but so glad that in his last years, he got to experience love, acceptance, and everything he hadn’t gotten in his childhood.
However, one of the aspects I wasn’t a huge fan of was that the story was quite repetitive in each chapter, the plot could have been written the same way in fewer chapters. I have nothing but absolute admiration for Hanya Yanagihara for conveying these dark emotions with such depth and understanding.