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Book Review: Call me by your name by André Aciman

Cover of the book Call me by your name on a Kindle in a beach setting

Call Me by Your Name is a highly sensual, somewhat nostalgic and sweet novel by André Aciman about the longings of young forbidden love. The main character, Elio, is struggling with his sexual identity. He is 17 and falls in love with Oliver, his father’s new research assistant.

It is a coming of age story about a young boy’s first love told from his perspective as a grown man reflecting on the summer that changed his life. You can feel the longing, love, and passion throughout the book. 

André Aciman was born in Egypt and is an American novelist. He is of Jewish heritage, and in the book, he talks about how the main character feels the need to hide his identity in the small town. Elio is perplexed how Oliver can so proudly display his Jewish identity. It is obviously a topic the author has also struggled with. His award-winning memoir, Out of Egypt, is an account of his childhood as a Jew growing up in post-colonial Egypt.

“We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!”

Call Me by Your Name is a story of young forbidden love set in an idyllic Italian Riviera in the ’80s. Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old American-Italian boy, spending the summer with his family, meets Oliver, a 24-year-old American graduate student working on his doctorate. Their fates intertwine and affect each other’s physical and emotional states. The book transports you to those lazy and hazy days of summer in the 80s. It’s about young love blossoming when all things seem possible, yet it has angst just below the surface.

“If I could have him like this in my dreams every night of my life, I’d stake my entire life on dreams and be done with the rest.”

André Aciman describes the beauty of Italy in picturesque language that even an artist would find difficult to match. You can almost feel the sea breeze as you read or listen to the book. Descriptions like the billowing shirt are so visceral you can feel it happening in front of your eyes.

“Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.”

I liked many things about this book—the characters, the setting, the writing style, and the relationship between the two main characters. However, it is a slow-paced book that gradually builds the connection between these two men. You see the love grow over time as you learn more about each of them.

Call Me by Your Name doesn’t have a linear plot but is more like a compilation of the events that led Elio to what would be his life-changing summer with Oliver. The book’s beginning was slow, but I couldn’t stop reading once Elio and Oliver got together. It felt like I was experiencing the same emotions that Elio felt and experienced.

Aciman did a great job detailing Elio’s lust and longing for Oliver. The angst of a love-lorn teenager comes across beautifully without it sounding like that of a whining teenager.

“We are not written for one instrument alone; I am not, neither are you.”

Call Me by Your Name has been adapted into a film starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. The smooth voice of Armie Hammer narrates the Audible version of the book.

Verdict: Must Read

Note: Some links are part of an affiliate program, which means that if you click on a link and buy something, I might receive a percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you. 

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