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A Little Life Summary


Jude St. Francis’ life is portrayed in A Little Life. Narration is revealed through flashbacks and retrospectives.
Monks nurture Jude, an abandoned newborn in South Dakota. Brother Luke is kind to Jude, whose priests are nasty and abusive. Luke kidnaps 11-year-old Jude. Luke sells Jude. Brother Luke kills himself before his Montana arrest. Foster care abuses Jude. 14-year-old, he hitchhiked to Boston. When sick, Dr. Traylor kidnaps him. Traylor rapes Jude. Jude’s wounds are permanent.
Jude attends college because of Ana. Jude makes art-world friends in college. Like Willem, Jude is an orphan. Jude and Willem move to NYC after college. Jude’s friends love him, but he never reveals his handicap. Andy knows. Andy has Jude’s back.
Four grads advance. Professor Harold observes Jude. Jude befriends Harold and Julia. They adopt Jude. Jude is a lawyer turned businessman. Jude is sick and wants to save money.
Jude and Willem bond as Willem’s career climbs. JB exposes Jude’s paintings without permission and mocks his handicap as he drugs. Jude dismisses JB’s apology. He’s never told anyone about his background or self-harming and is afraid someone may learn. Caleb is Jude’s first romantic partner. Caleb mistreats Jude. Caleb tries suicide as Harold and Andy protect Jude’s secret.
Jude’s suicide attempt alerts Willem. Jude struggles with these feelings. He dislikes sex and Willem’s background checks. Willem discovers Jude’s self-harm, which worsens his behaviour. Jude describes his difficult childhood to Willem. He’s anti-sexual. Jude and Willem aren’t lovers.
Jude and Willem are pleased despite Jude’s injuries. Jude’s mental health is affected. Harold exposes Jude’s suicide 2 years after Willem’s death at 51.

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