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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Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

I didn’t think I was going to read this book – I was just unsure that it was my thing as I’m getting older and my reading tastes are developing, but I’m so glad I did! It was a combination of loving The Upside of Unrequited and @bookish_and_proud (shoutout to Becky!) enjoying it that made me finally picking up, and it was definitely worth it.

“Imagine going about your day knowing someone’s carrying you in their mind.”

In some ways, this book was exactly how I expected it to be. It was angsty, cheesy and cliche, but I also loved it. I’m trying to be honest with myself here, and be honest with you guys too, so I’ll just come out with it. I really want to be cultured, and educated, and have an obsession with classics and other  books that will shape me as a person. But I honestly really love a good YA contemporary, so here we are. This book was my guilty pleasure in written form.

First of all, Leah. I loved her, she was so relatable and badass and I really found myself enjoying reading about her character. But I have to say, she was also incredibly…brash? I don’t really know how to describe her, but she really needs to learn to forgive and stop holding so many grudges. I get it, I can be like her as a person too, but sometimes it just annoyed me a little how she seemed to hate people for no reason (*cough* Wells *cough*).

“That has to be the best part of being in love- the feeling of having a home in some else’s brain.”

But that really has to be the only downside of Leah on the Offbeat, because I couldn’t help but love the rest. It’s cliche, but it also has a balance of deep, meaningful stuff which is really true about growing up. But what I really loved about these books was the laughter. I find it really, truly difficult to laugh-out-loud at books, but this one really tickled me. I kept having to stop and recite funny passages to my boyfriend.

On top of it being so funny, it was also so current! I found myself giving a little fist-pump when I saw Troye Sivan was mentioned. It warmed my heart at every single Harry Potter reference. I melted when I saw a reference to Six of Crows. I’m going to have to stop, because I loved this book so much I could go on and on about it, so I will say one last thing – I love how this book is in the same world as Simon vs. and The Upside of Unrequited. And I love how they’re not direct sequels, because there is no pressure to go back and remember what happened in Simon vs!

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

This book honestly really surprised me! I thought I was over cutesy YA romances like this but it turns out I can’t help but have a soft spot for them. And it also turns out that my friend Amy knows me even better than I know myself, because she sent this to me knowing how much I’d love it!

Before I start, this book isn’t perfect. I’d rather finish on the good, so I’m going to start with the little bad there is. Even though I enjoyed it, it is predictable and all of the characters have their…problems. For example, there was a few places that made me cringeeee. Basically, Molly (the main character), talks to her cousin Abby and the conversation almost suggests Abby is a slut because she slept with her serious boyfriend of 4 months. Why is that even a consideration? It’s up to Abby whether she sleeps with her boyfriend or not. If they were ready at 4 months, great. If they were ready sooner, great.

“You would matter. That’s the thing. I get into this weird place sometimes where I worry about that.”

But apart from a few little things, I did love this book. I had to put myself into my mind a year or two ago, but I couldn’t help but really enjoy this. It is exactly how I felt when I was Molly’s age and crushing. She felt so real to me. I love how much I could relate to her and her situation. Molly wasn’t perfect but who is? And this book was so diverse, with so many LGBT and POC characters! Sometimes I struggled to remember Molly was still growing up (I was a little more mature than her at the same age), but that was just her as a person, and I could sympathise with that.

“I’ve never told anyone this – not my moms, not Cassie – but that’s the thing I’m most afraid of. Not mattering. Existing in a world that doesn’t care who I am.”

Maybe this book says something about me, because I feel like I’m one of the only readers who didn’t find Molly a little annoying because I found her so relatable. I loved that Molly suffered with anxiety and that was part of her character. I loved that she was fat and that was discussed in relation to how she was feeling. I loved her addiction to Pinterest.

So overall, this book feels like a guilty pleasure to me. I just couldn’t help but fall completely in love with it. Molly is the perfect representation of a 17 year old girl with low self-confidence. Her story, and the stories of the people around her, brought tears to my eyes even though I kind of knew what was about to happen. If you love romance and have a secret obsession with contemporaries, please go and read this. It’s beautiful and perfect and includes many, many Mini Eggs. It’s the definition of cute and fluffy, but it warmed my heart so much.

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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