Jude, Alone: A Case Study of Pain in Fiction

“I wished her story was over. I didn’t want to hear it anymore. All of a sudden I was scared, scared of the feelings she’d had, and I’d never had, and scared of what would happen next.” — Hard Love

Photo of a bookshelf, with the cover of A Little Life facing forward.
And I went ahead and got the hardcover edition.
Photo of author Hanya Yanagihara, an Asian-American woman.
Photo of author Hanya Yanagihara from Das Erste
Photo of Jude St. Francis played by Ramsey Nasr on the set of A Little Life
Photo of the A Little Life play from The New York Times

“…I think the book starts to feel very cheap and manipulative if you think ‘I’m going to try and get this reaction here, and this reaction here, and this reaction here.’ ”

“Man up, young readers of America! This suggests that we should perhaps sticker the copies of A Little Life that we are shipping to college bookstores with the newly fashionable trigger warnings.”

Photo of a black man with his head in his hands.
Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

To initiate or precipitate a chain of events, scientific reaction, psychological process, etc.

This book is a work of fiction, but that does not mean that there aren’t very realistic incidents that could be triggering to some readers. Now, I hate trigger warnings. I believe that they can absolutely ruin a book and as such, I will not be listing the specific triggers within this book. This is a blanket trigger warning. This book is meant to go in blind. I’ve purposefully written the blurb to reveal absolutely nothing about the overall plot of this book. Do not read spoilers, if only for you to receive the full impact of the book in both a plot and emotional aspect.

Just trust me, okay?

For many readers, you will experience a variety of emotional reactions and that is a good thing. This book is meant to make you feel. I have no desire to lessen that for you by telling you all the things that happen within the pages that might make someone uncomfortable. This being said, if you have any triggers, any at all, I would suggest reaching out to me to ask if you will be okay reading this book or maybe giving this book a pass all together.

What I don’t suggest? Ignoring this all together and then going and ruining the book for others in any way, shape, or form. Because, let’s be real, I tried to warn you.

Don’t be a Karen, y’all.

Dear Reader,

in Orpheus Girl conversion therapy is depicted as the serious, human rights violation it is. The book addresses the real and devastating effects that conversion therapy has on those who go through it. There are scenes in this book that depict self-harm, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ characters. I felt it was necessary to portray the struggles that many members of our community endure in order to raise awareness of the continuing battles we face.

At its core, Orpheus Girl is about hope. This is the story of a heroine whose belief in a better future for herself, for the girl she loves, and for the other characters is never shaken. This book is about our community’s strength in the face of ignorance, our resilience, and our ability to advocate for a better future for ourselves and for those who come after us. I hope that Raya’s journey inspired you to fight for what you believe in.

Screenshot of a tweet by Lauren Hough that reads: “TW yep” in response to another tweet that reads “are you comparing twitter drama about book reviews to being raped and victim blamed?”
Source: Bad Writing Takes
Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

“One of the things that makes me most suspicious about the field is its insistence that life is always the answer […] almost every doctor of the critically sick understands the patient’s right to refuse treatment, to choose death over life. But psychology, and psychiatry, insists that life is the meaning of life, so to speak; that if one can’t be repaired, one can at least find a way to stay alive, to keep growing older.”

“This is a psychological book that is very much against psychology. And I didn’t want readers to diagnose Jude, I didn’t want everyone to use clinical terms when talking about him. I wanted them to accept him as a complex person with a number of very grave problems that couldn’t be bundled up with one term, borderline, and just tossed aside.”

Photo of an open book that reads “VI. Dear Comrade”
Photo by author

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Mika AM

Writer, daydreamer, procrastinator. Always late to the party but loves platypus(es)