Dancing in Italy

Call Me By Your Name: Review

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman, published January 23, 2007, by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

This unexpected love letter takes readers on an usual yet beguiling journey through a summer in Italy, exploring the excitement of adolescence and the complicated experience of attraction. Written from the perspective of Elio Perlman, he reminisces upon one summer in 1983, where an unlikely romance spurs between him, seventeen years old, and a graduate student visiting as a summer guest.

Based in northern Italy where the Perlman family spends their summer, Elio encounters all of the traditional teenage experiences, and then Oliver: acerbic yet amiable, and the subject of Elio’s obsession. Conflicted between infatuation and enmity, Elio analyzes every aspect of Oliver’s character– from his charming demeanor to his infuriating choice of farewell: “Later!”

The story progresses as Elio’s fascination for Oliver slowly becomes reciprocated, and a slow but sure romance blossoms between the two while everyone around them remains oblivious. This relationship, however, despite its seriosity, does not prohibit them from pursuing strictly physical affairs with girls around their town. In fact, Elio builds a relationship with a girl named Marzia almost at the same time as his budding relationship with Oliver. It introduces the idea, without stating it blatantly, that sexuality is fluid and neither Elio or Oliver are confining themselves to one gender.

André Aciman, Goodreads

Composed through the artistic lens of André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name is a heartbreakingly beautiful masterpiece of a story, outlining the rarity of love and the importance of embracing it willingly and intentionally.

Aciman’s writing style consists of picturesque language and extensive personal reflection– most of Elio’s events are told through his thoughts instead of direct dialogue, something that allows for a much broader understanding of Elio’s character, but requires great faith in the reader to stay motivated to keep turning the pages. Another incredible feat of the author– to keep a reader interested in a relationship that has had unlikely odds since the beginning.

Aciman created two incredibly complex characters. Elio is driven by his passion– due to the book being of his perspective, his thoughts and reflection are the most of what we read. He becomes attached to a person incredibly fast, and this person takes over his mind. Oliver is a character filled with personality and charm– although he is harder to read, and his moods seem to fluctuate consistently throughout the novel. There are passages that are uncomfortable or strange due to how detailed Aciman writes Elio’s thoughts, but these brash, direct scenes are necessary in cultivating Elio and Oliver’s relationship.

Luca Guadagnino’s film adaptation of the book struck the hearts of many. An inventive, eloquent film with the two main characters portrayed by Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, the movie is a close replica of the book, down to the smallest details. A beautiful and moving film, its flowery and baroque design captures the essence of the story phenomenally, although the book remains the best version of the story if one truly desires to understand it fully.

Call Me By Your Name is an incredible tribute to the LGBT+ community, providing a story of representation that is unique from any other book on the shelves. Sensual and striking, Call Me By Your Name is a story of longing, passion, and a celebration of love.

Rating: A

Click here to listen to my Call Me By Your Name Spotify playlist to listen as you read.

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