Four friends try to make it in New York after college, while helping one of the men who is grappling with horrifying childhood trauma.
This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Please see Disclosures for more information.
Four friends move to New York after graduating from college with big dreams of successful careers. JB is an artist, Willem an aspiring actor, Malcolm an architect, and Jude a lawyer. The story brings the reader into the lives of each of the men, finally landing on Jude. It’s at this point that it’s clear that this is not just another post-collegiate New York story. Jude is insular and mysterious, and as the story progresses, the degree of his damage and suffering emerges.
A Little Life covers decades in the life of the men and it is one of the most devastating, riveting books I’ve ever read. Many readers count it among their favorites–just as many say they loved it but could never read it again. For more, also check out The Story of the Story: 15 Things You Didn’t Know about A Little Life.
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.
Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.
- 30 of My All-Time Favorite Books (That You Might Love, Too)
- The Story of the Story: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About A Little Life
- 11 Devastating Books Like A Little Life
- 17 Powerful Books that Will Change Your Life
- 20 Books About Tragedy and Real-Life Struggle
- 11 Big, Extra-Long Books Worth Reading
- 30 Contemporary Fiction Novels for Your Book Bucket List
- 30 of the Best Books of the Decade
- Fiction and Nonfiction Books About Friendships
- Discussion: The Discomfort of Enjoying Books Inspired by Real-Life Tragedies