Novels That Feature Close-Knit Friends: Background information when reading A Little Life

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A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara X
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2015, 736 pages

    Jan 2016, 736 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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About this Book

Novels That Feature Close-Knit Friends

This article relates to A Little Life

Print Review

One of the many astute portrayals in A Little Life is the closely knit group of friends to which Jude St. Francis, the haunted protagonist, belongs. While the literal coming-of-age happens during the teen years, it could be argued that college, for those who attend, is the real deal. It is a transformative experience for most people, and they forge friendships that form an essential support network when they are cast out into the real world. These relationships are more than the rose-colored variety as depicted by television sitcoms such as Friends. Indeed A Little Life follows its core group: Jude, Willem, JB and Malcolm, over the course of three decades showing how the course of a life can bruise or fortify friendships.

Here are some equally engaging novels that feature groups of friends and their interactions.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
The Interestings
Six teenagers meet at a summer art camp in upstate New York and become close friends. Much like A Little Life, Meg Wolitzer's novel follows these friends as they make their way through life in New York City. Some get married, some fall in and out of the group, while envy, competitiveness, and solidarity all knit them together in intricate ways.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
Shotgun Lovesongs
Following four young men from a small Wisconsin town making their way into adulthood, this debut brilliantly captures the point of realization when youth's idealism is lost, and when the infinite possibilities that once seemed possible narrow down to a more limited range. One of the characters is actually based on real-life Indie musician Justin Vernon, lending the story that much more authenticity.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Secret History
One of the most engaging page-turning novels I have ever read. A group of friends at an elite New England college find themselves drawn to their classics professor who challenges their conventional ways of thinking. When the ties that bind the group together gets the friends into ever deeper waters, there's a risk of losing perspective and not doing the right thing. Donna Tartt explores morality's slippery slope in this contemporary classic.

The Secret Place by Tana French
The Secret Place
The secret place is a common-area notice board that hangs in the corridors of a posh Dublin girls' high school. A boy from a neighboring school has been murdered and one of the girls knows who did it, revealing this detail in the secret place. A brilliant exploration of the mechanics of a clique, this novel is a searching look at what can happen when friendship seals the rest of the world shut.

The Collective by Don Lee
The Collective
Don Lee fluidly explores the intersection between race and friendship as three Asian American artists get together in college and later explore different forms of art as they come of age. As the novel explores the reasons for one of the friend's suicides, it lays bare the hypocrisy that is prevalent in supposedly post-racial America.

Filed under Reading Lists

Article by Poornima Apte

This "beyond the book article" relates to A Little Life. It originally ran in April 2015 and has been updated for the January 2016 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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