“You are the only person I’d like to say goodbye to when I die because only then will this thing I call life make any sense.” – André Aciman
I have some strict rules regarding my books and reading. I never dog-ear pages, I absolutely refuse to crack a book’s spine, and for all of my reading life so far, I’ve never once been compelled to write in the margins of my books or highlight passages. That all changed when I read Call Me By Your Name.
Although this is a seemingly short novel, coming in at only 248 pages, it hits you with the intensity of a 900-page chunkster. Truly, there were paragraphs in this book that I repeated over and over because they were so beautiful. Never let it be said that short books are “easier” to write than long novels or less thought-provoking. Aciman effectively puts those myths to rest and has achieved something remarkable with his first novel.
The novel follows Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old Jewish American living at his parents’ summer home on the Italian Riviera. Each summer, his parents host a young academic to assist his father’s work and to also receive guidance on their own manuscripts. This particular summer in the 1980s, an older student named Oliver comes to stay. Oliver’s confident yet detached character is a stark contrast to Elio’s introverted and quiet demeanor. Despite this, it isn’t long before both men have a life-changing effect on each other that will stay with both of them for decades to come.
It was such a pleasure to read something that is, admittedly, a completely new perspective for me. Of course, I’ve read my fair share of summer romance novels over the years, but reading from the perspective of two young men combined with Aciman’s poetic writing gave the novel such an intense, urgent feeling that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from. Considering the novel was also written 10 years ago, I’m so glad to see it is now a major motion picture that will be hitting theatres next month and getting the national recognition it deserves. This is certainly a novel to savor over long, warm lazy afternoons (ideally in the Italian Riviera) and I hope to see it in many more people’s hands before the movie’s release date on November 24, 2017. It is by far a new favorite of mine.
Buy a copy of the book here.