Yes, I recently suffered a book hangover. The funny thing is I feel like the book consumed me and not the other way around! A really delicious novel like this one inclines the reader to chew on the plot, savor the words and enjoy the characters as if they were delectable morsels.
The book at fault was A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. Although a little dark and depressing at times, and deals with some distasteful subject matter, it nonetheless swept me up into the lives of the characters, particularly Jude and Willem. I won't give anything away but I have to say I found the ending oddly satisfying. I don't know if others would agree? A true book hangover enveloped me and it was a couple of days before I could pick up another novel to read. Even then I had to make sure it was a lot lighter than A Little Life!
This book gave me a lot to think about. It is indeed a bonus if a work of fiction can teach you something. Before reading A Little Life I knew absolutely nothing about the practice of 'cutting'. I'm not sure one's life is enhanced with this knowledge but I have to admit that I found it fascinating and in the context of the novel somewhat understandable.
Another thing I experienced from reading Yanagihara's novel was an insight that struck me personally. The character Harold tells us, "You have never known fear until you have a child" and goes on to say that every day after you become a parent you live with fear for them, the biggest one of course being death. When that horrible event occurs "you feel everything you'd expect to feel" and then something else happens.
Having dealt with the death of a son, an only child, I sat up and took notice of what Harold says next. My husband and I have often wondered how we have survived and why we continue to find some moments of happiness in life despite our terrible loss. While I know there is more than one reason that accounts for this, the author's words for what happens to a parent, upon the death of a child, rang very true for me:
"But here's what no one says - when it's your child, a part of you, a very tiny but nonetheless unignorable part of you, also feels relief. Because finally, the moment you have been expecting,
been dreading, been preparing yourself for since the day you became a parent, has come.
Ah, you tell yourself, it's arrived. Here it is.
And after that you have nothing to fear again."