by Hanya Yanagihara

This is a very hard book to review. Not because of any deficiency. It is absolutely brilliant in so many of the ways that count. An interesting and unique plot and storyline, well-developed characters, the handling of extremely difficult themes (sexuality, race, money, addiction, mental illness, jealousy, envy, abuse) with respect and skill, covering friendship in a way that many authors never do, insight into the interiority of characters’ emotions, and beautifully written prose. The book is long (approximately 700 pages), but definitely held my attention. Sometimes it held my attention in ways that weren’t pleasant (ruminating on some of the more difficult scenes/themes in the book, and even having nightmares!). I think this book would be difficult for many people to read. It definitely contains quite a few triggers: graphic sexual assault, suicide attempts, drug addiction, death. And at times, I seriously wondered how in the world the author was able to write about some of the things in this book because they were so dark and showed such an ugly side of humanity. Thankfully, there was beauty interspersed throughout and that redeemed the story when it was often getting too heavy. For me, to spend time with these characters, and be a part of their long friendship from college well into adulthood, and watch how they interacted with each other and the world, was well worth it.