Review: Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

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Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.

Warning: spoilers ahead! No necessarily large plot spoilers, but discussions of major scenes.

I’m going to have to clear something up -this is mainly going to be a rant. So before I go all negative, I’m going to have to tell you that there is no doubt, this book is beautiful. The narrative is absolutely breathtaking, and reads like a classic. This isn’t always a good thing, but it is emotional, raw and naked. Too naked, in fact, and so pretensions it really p**sed me off, but in the end that is frankly the least of my problems.

Other positives! I loved the Italian setting, it was utterly beautiful. I also liked the characters and I need to mention the discussion between Elio and his dad at the end of the book. It was definitely the most heartwarming part of the entire novel for me and I loved it.

“If I could have him like this in my dreams every night of my life,”

Okay, with that over let’s get to why I’m rating this book 2 stars. For many reasons, this book made me extremely uncomfortable. The worst possible feeling a book can make me, when I turn to reading for relaxation and comfort. I know everyone talks about this, but I have to mention the infamous peach scene. For those who haven’t read the book, Elio has a very intimate relationship with a peach. At this point, I let this wash over me and dismissed it. So what? People have their kinks. And then this happened.

“What a crazy thing this was. I let myself hang back, holding the fruit in both hands, grateful that I hadn’t gotten the sheet dirty with either juice or come. The bruised and damaged peach, like a rape victim, lay on its side on my desk, shamed, loyal, aching, and confused, struggling not to spill what I’d left inside.”

No no no no. And more no. Something that all authors in the entire world should know – never ever refer to a sexual act as rape if you want us to like and relate to a character. What the actual f***.

The book continued to disgust me, with two other scenes I will mention. One, where Elio actually searched for pubic hairs in a bathing suit because he wanted to find them. Another, when he declared to his lover not to flush, because he wanted to not only see his poop but poop on top of it. His lover then kissed him on the lips and rubbed his stomach while he pooped.

I’m sorry but what. This is not romantic. It doesn’t prove how close these two people are, and it is not needed. All of this is creepy, weird and actually made me feel slightly sick.

“I’d stake my entire life on dreams and be done with the rest.”

So overall, I am going to watch the movie with the hope of this book being portrayed better on the big screen. I won’t deny that the writing is beautiful, but this book is too flawed and littered with issues for me to enjoy it.

★★
2 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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