Review: Find Me (#2) by Andre Aciman


Goodreads | Waterstones

Elio believes he has left behind his first love – but as an affair with an older man intensifies, his thoughts turn to the past and to Oliver.
Oliver, a college professor, husband and father, is preparing to leave New York. The imminent trip stirs up longing and regret, awakening an old desire and propelling him towards a decision that could change everything.
In Call Me By Your Name, we fell in love with Oliver and Elio. Find Me returns to these unforgettable characters, exploring how love can ripple out from the past and into the future.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book after not enjoying Call Me By Your Name when I read it a few years ago. However, I was intrigued by Find Me, especially when I found out it contained a story about Elio’s dad. The discussion Elio has with his dad in Call Me By Your Name was one of my favourite parts of the book, so when I heard I could read more about him I jumped at the chance.

However, I unfortunately can’t say I enjoyed this much more. It was mainly quite bland and just okay. I read it mostly on audiobook (probably around 80% and 20% physical) and I’m glad I did. Although Aciman’s writing is very beautiful, it is quite deep and therefore difficult to get through in my opinion. Reading the audiobook definitely helped with this!

Each of us is like a moon that shows only a few facets to earth, but never its full sphere.

I’ve heard a lot of readers were disappointed by this book because they expected more Elio and Oliver, and I can see why. The first half of the book follows Samuel, Elio’s dad, which I actually enjoyed the most. He meets a woman by chance on a train, called Miranda, and they fall in love in a whirlwind 24 hour journey. Although I felt it was quite unrealistic, I loved the stark honesty of their feelings for each other and some of the discussions they had. However, the romance did feel odd at times, in the pure desire and love they felt for each other merely hours after having met. There was also some incredibly odd and problematic scenes and discussions between them, including some very problematic discussions of sex and abuse.

Elio’s story follows, and then Oliver’s. They are all set years after Call Me By Your Name, and I think Oliver’s section was set 20 years after. I quite enjoyed Elio’s story, which was also a whirlwind romance with a strange amount of mystery surrounding a sheet of music, which it became clear was the idea for the chapters of the book. The relationship in Elio’s section felt more realistic, but was not without it’s problems in discussion.

Oliver’s section of the book showed him married, but seemingly fantasising at length about a threesome with two of his friends. This just felt uncomfortable and conflicting to the story. We eventually end the book with the characters all coming together, in a way.

Most of us never meet those who’ll understand our full rounded self. I show people only that sliver of me I think they’ll grasp.

As I felt about Call Me By Your Name, this book was very problematic in some of it’s discussion and in a lot of ways, feels like a way for the author to play out his own very weird fantasies. Although I did enjoy some elements of this book, including the beautiful setting and beautiful writing, there was just too many problems for me to enjoy it.

2.5 out of 5 stars


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Review: Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman


Goodreads | Amazon

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


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