Call Me By Your Name was my final read in the year 2017 and I fell completely and utterly in love with the book. Originally, I decided to pick it up because I saw the trailer for the movie and had very few expectations for what was to come, I only knew that I liked the concept. To my own surprise I couldn’t help but declare it my absolute favourite book of the entire year (and maybe even longer than that?).
For a lack of better word, I would describe reading Call Me By Your Name an experience. The writing is extremely lyrical and raw, so much so that I felt like I was intruding on someone’s most private thoughts but at the same time it was impossible to put down. It was truly such an intimate affair that I fear I won’t do the book justice with my review, because I am not sure I will find all the right words, but I will try.
17-year-old Elio is a fantastic narrator. Sounding much more mature than his age would suggest and then again just like the boy he still is, he is not afraid to sometimes contradict himself in what he says and feels. All that makes it easy to follow him as he figures out his romantic life and sexuality.
“It would never have entered my mind because I was still under the illusion that, barring what I’d read in books, inferred from rumors, and overheard in bawdy talk all over, no one my age had ever wanted to be both man and woman-with men and women.”
It was thrilling but also a pain to watch him circle Oliver. Both romantic infatuation and sexual obsession radiated off Elio and that made the story over the course of its four parts beautiful and awful, intimate and sad, relatable and then again going that one step too far.
All I wanted for Elio and Oliver was to openly be able to show their feelings, but aside from the age difference, the 80s weren’t the kindest years for people to come out. I was rooting for them the entire time, but you always know from the get go that it is a bittersweet kind of story. Still, it was beautiful to read how they got closer and their relationship develops and builds up.
“I want to know your body, I want to know how you feel, I want to know you, and through you, me.”
If I had to pick one part of the book that bothered me, it would be that despite me loving the intimacy and palpable chemistry, I just simultaneously felt like I didn’t need to know every single detail of Elio’s deepest and innermost sexual fantasies and thoughts. For example, the infamous peach scene wasn’t badly written, but it was something that I, personally, didn’t need.
Aside from that, I adored basically the whole thing! I loved all the relationships, platonic, romantic and the ones that crossed borders. I loved how it is mentioned several times that Elio is an avid reader.
“This is my spot. All mine. I come here to read. I can’t tell you the number of books I’ve read here.”
“Do you like being alone?” he asked.
“No. No one likes being alone. But I’ve learned how to live with it.”
I loved how complex Elio’s relationship with his parents was presented. How they had very few rules and basically left him to his own devices but also really cared for him and where there when it counted.
I loved how the book made me feel like being in the Italian countryside during summer (during the actual middle of winter for me), without ever telling us where exactly we even were. That mystery about the location weirdly just added to the realness of it all, while I simultaneously just appreciated the European setting in general.
I have so many thoughts and emotions just thinking about this book, but aside from struggling to express them, I also don’t want to spoil the book for you entirely. I just hope that this little review gave you a nudge towards picking Call Me By Your Name up for yourself! I can only recommend it.
P.S.: I’d recommend listening to “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens (from the soundtrack) while reading! It gives you the perfect atmosphere.
Fazit: 5/5 stars! An instant classic and addition to my all-time-favorites-list!
Have you read Call Me By Your Name? Watched the movie? Do you want to?