Warning: this post contains spoilers!!
TW: This post mentions depression, anxiety, and suicide. Please read carefully!! 🙂
So, welcome back to the blog! I know it’s been a while since we’ve posted, but I’ve been reading a lot lately (I’m two books ahead on my 2022 reading challenge !!) and I’m hopefully going to start posting more often. Okay, now here we go.
This is definitely the heaviest book I have ever read. It started bad, and it ended bad, and everything in between was bad. It was almost like, how much more suffering can these characters endure? Turns out, it was a lot.
The premise of the book follows four college friends through their twenties until their fifties. It generally revolves around Jude, who has a mysterious past and an issue with his nerves in his back that make him unable to walk properly. A lot of the book is set up around each of the friends–Willem, Malcolm, and JB–trying to help Jude and trying to understand him better.
Unfortunately for the reader, Jude’s life is one big ball of misery. The only times we see this man remotely happy are when he is *spoiler* adopted by his former law professor, Harold, and when he and Willem finally realize they are in love with each other. Even then, he is constantly depressed and self-loathing.
The part of the book that was the hardest to read was anything about Jude’s childhood. It felt as if she wrote anything and everything that could ever happen to a person, pulling out some of the worst situations I had ever read in my life. From birth to his almost inevitable suicide, Jude experienced more misery than humanly possible, and it often times made me feel sick to my stomach.
Despite it being the most depressing piece of literature I have ever read, this book was beautifully written. Right from the get-go, I was enrapt in the lives of these men, even the most mundane things. I fully cared about Jude, and felt genuinely ill when learning about his past and his hurt and his hardship. Everything felt so real and raw to me, and that was all because of the gorgeous writing of the author.
Now, while the author did write a beautiful book, I cannot write a raving review without addressing some things about her. I did some research on her, mostly because I was wondering who in their right mind could ever write something so horribly sad, and I found some interviews that sort of rubbed me the wrong way.
I won’t get into a lot of the things she has said, but I do want to say that while I enjoyed the book (though I will never put myself through that ever again), I do not agree with the things that the author has said about therapy and mental illness, and I firmly believe that everybody, no matter what their past or mental state is, is deserving of love and help and support. Nobody is beyond help, and nobody is better off dead.
I only recommend this book if you can mentally handle it. I do not recommend reading this book if you are prone to depression or anxiety or are sensitive to heavy subjects. I found myself entering a depressive slump if I read for too long, and had to pay more attention to my mental health than normal while reading.
Still, the book was very gorgeous, heartbreaking, and will stick with me for the rest of my life.
I will never read it again, though.