Contemporary · general fiction · lgbtqia content · sequel

REVIEW: Find Me by Andre Aciman

The Official Description: No novel in recent memory has spoken more movingly to contemporary readers about the nature of love than André Aciman’s haunting Call Me by Your Name. First published in 2007, it was hailed as “a love letter, an invocation . . . an exceptionally beautiful book” (Stacey D’Erasmo, The New York Times Book Review). Nearly three quarters of a million copies have been sold, and the book became a much-loved, Academy Award–winning film starring Timothée Chalamet as the young Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver, the graduate student with whom he falls in love.

In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.

Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.

Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the emotional nuances that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the magic circle of one of our greatest contemporary romances to ask if, in fact, true love ever dies.

Just the facts: Sequel to Call Me By Your Name, age gap relationships, family, truth

My thoughts bit: I am a big fan of André Aciman’s writing. I think he’s got a truly unique style and I have read all of his fiction. When I heard that there was a sequel coming for “Call Me By Your Name” I was thrilled and a little apprehensive. The problem with reading a sequel is that I’m always going to compare it to the original. Sadly, Find Me doesn’t fare well after such a comparison.

IF YOU CONTINUE READING YOU WILL READ SPOILERS.

This book is written in three different perspectives and times. The first section is Sami – the beloved father of Elio and my favorite character from the original book. He meets a very young woman on a train and they become involved. The second part of the book is written from Elio’s perspective. He attends a concert and meets a man much older than him and they begin a relationship. In the third part of the book, Oliver is the narrator. He is moving on from a home, a job, while contemplating the relationships he has missed out on with a couple of his much younger friends.

Obviously, I don’t know what Aciman was attempting to do when he wrote this story, but I have trouble seeing it as a “sequel”. The largest part of this book is devoted to the bizarre and unbelievable relationship between Sami and Miranda. Samuel first meets Miranda on a train…. and a mere 24 hours later they are basically declaring their undying love for each other. They fall into a physical relationship entirely too quickly and before their first evening is over Miranda is speaking about her desire to have Samuel’s child. Now, I’m a believer in instant attraction and things of that nature, but I was completely unable to suspend my disbelief with this relationship. Miranda claims initially that she doesn’t ever stay with the men in her life, and leaves them all. She’s a “free spirit”, but is probably one of the most cliché characters I have read in a very long time.

Samuel is almost entirely focussed on Miranda’s looks, her physical being, her body… and how attractive she is. It’s quite shallow and I couldn’t balance that with the utter love I had for Samuel in Call Me By Your Name. His thoughts were unbearably shallow at times, focusing on littler more than sexual attraction and physical beauty.

There are only a handful of female characters in this book which isn’t really a problem. The problem for me was that all the female characters border on ridiculous. Miranda… a young photographer who falls in love with Samual within about 12 hours and claims to want his child and to live with him forever. There’s really no depth to Miranda aside from he strange sexual proclivities with respect to her brother. Oliver’s wife… when informed that Oliver is leaving her just shrugs and agrees. There’s no questioning, no arguing, no concern… nothing really. Michel tells Elio of the time when his wife found out that he was in a relationship with a man and her response is a simple “well, I can’t compete with a man.” All of the female characters are half-finished and lack a lot of emotion… or even a normal response to the action that goes on around them.

There are several uncomfortable connections made to family members throughout this novel. Miranda reveals a secret to Samuel that involved incestual feelings of desire. Samuel often thinks of the fact that Miranda is a similar age to his own son whom he adores. Michel (Elio’s older partner) speaks of wanting to go home and pretend that Elio is his son. The sexual relationships and the comparison to family members was confusing as well as disturbing. There were entirely too many comparisons between lovers and family members for me. I could understand the fondness between two people making it come up once…but every character doing it was too much for me.

If this book is about anything, I suppose it’s about fate and taking chances. All the characters express a desire to take chances, paths they previously haven’t traveled. There’s also an underlying theme of “soul mates” (although I hate that tern). The characters have all had and lost significant loves… and will come to have them again. Life is running full circle for everyone in the novel. There are meetings, departures and all the happiness and pain that happens in between.

André Aciman is a remarkable writer. I finished this book because I love the way that he weaves words together. His prose is lyrical, beautiful and engaging and it is the main reason I didn’t give up on reading this novel about halfway through.

“Fate works forward, backward, and crisscrosses sideways and couldn’t care less how we scan its purposes with our rickety little befores and afters.”

The writing was beautiful, I just wish that I had been able to connect with the plot in a better way… or at all. Samuel was my favorite from the original story and the Samuel in this sequel read as a completely different character to me. I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I have every other one of Aciman’s books.

 

 

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