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Book Review: Call Me By Your Name

October 1, 2019

So, this week was one of those rare instances where I think I liked the movie version more than the book version. Crazy, I know! It suprised me too! Also, a special shout-out to my friend Sam for letting me borrow this week's book (and for not having a million crazy book borrowing rules like yours truly!)!

 

If you need a refresher on why I do a weekly book review, check it out here!

 

With no more ado, here's my review of Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman!

 Call Me By Your Name follows Elio, a teenage, across one transformative summer in Italy. Each year, his academic father hosts another academic to work on their writing. That summer, they hosted Oliver, an American professor. Elio quickly becomes transfixed by the carefree Oliver, but Oliver remains indifferent.

 

Elio soon realizes he has feelings for Oliver, but he doubts Oliver feels the same. 

 

Soon, Elio confesses his attraction to Oliver and the pair kiss, but Oliver pushes him away before it progresses. Oliver becomes distant again. 

 

To distract himself, Elio begins sleeping with Marzia, a girl he knows. But, he slips a note under Oliver's door, hoping the two can talk. The pair have sex, but Elio soon feels guilty and calls off the relationship with Oliver. After seeing Oliver wearing his swimming trunks, he decides his feelings won't go away, and starts the relationship again. 

 

Before going back to the States, Oliver decides to spend a few days in Rome, and Elio decides to go with him. Elio is sad to see Oliver go, and is even sadder when he returns home and sees Oliver's empty room. 

 

Elio and his father have a conversation where his father, thinly, says he approves of the relationship. 

 

Oliver returns for Christmas, and tells the family he's getting married in the spring. Elio and Oliver fall out and don't speak for several years. The novel ends 20 years after its start. Oliver is now a professor and Elio refuses to meet his family. They meet one last time in Italy, now that Elio's father is dead, and reminisce about the time they spent together that summer. 

 

I really enjoyed the movie version of Call Me By Your Name. I liked the book a little less. This seriously never happens to me! While I enjoyed many parts of the novel, I just feel that the pacing was better in the movie. Elio's narration was prone to meander, and I found myself skipping parts to get back to the action. It also took a long time for anything to actually happen. The first 100 pages or so are just Elio pining for Oliver, and not much else. While you learn a lot about Elio, and his manner of thinking, I wanted there to be more action in the first half of the novel. 

 

I loved the setting since Italy will always be near and dear to my heart. It did seem like the perfect setting for the novel. Aciman beautifully describes the languid summer days in the Italian countryside that Olive and Eilo share. Occasionally, the dialogue felt a little forced, and also got a little confusing when it was just dropped into a paragraph. There wasn't a ton of dialogue since most of the novel was Elio's thoughts, and I think having more dialogue would have helped with the pacing. 

 

I did think the plot was very original. It was written very well, the language was beautiful, and it really showed how it felt to be a bisexual man in the 1980's. I just wish there would have been a little bit more in the novel. While the ending was satisfying, it took a lot of will-power to get myself there. 

 

All in all, I have to give Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman a 3 out of 5. 

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