For most people, falling in love for the first time is an unforgettable and powerful experience that is filled with intense emotions. Author Andre Aciman does an excellent job in capturing these passionate feelings in the bestselling romance novel, Call Me By Your Name. Taking place in a picturesque Italian town during the summer of 1987, Call Me By Your Name (CMBYN) is about a precocious 17-year-old boy named Elio Perlman who falls in love with Oliver, a summer guest. Although it is evident that Elio likes Oliver the moment Elio meets him, the relationship between the two does not blossom right away. Rather, the relationship gradually develops as the weeks progress, ultimately building up to a strong relationship.
Unlike other romance novels I read, Aciman uses refined language and prose, which elevates the reading experience and makes it feel more enjoyable. From the vivid descriptions of the Italian summer days to Elio’s detailed observations of Oliver, Aciman’s writing style effectively highlights Elios’s complex feelings for Oliver that take place in a romantic backdrop. Although Elio’s ceaseless thoughts ranging from spontaneous musings to contradicting desires may cause this read to be a slow one in the beginning, I found the author’s choice of using the stream of consciousness as a mode of narration to be a fine choice. The syntax used in the book such as the frequent pauses and constant questions was a nice literary element that I also appreciated because the literary technique reflected Elio’s complicated thoughts of switching between wanting Oliver to reciprocate his feelings or not wanting to know.
Whether it was Elio’s early internal conflict about his relationship with Oliver or his various interpretations of Oliver’s short spoken phrases, I found this narrative style to be an accurate representation of what most people experience when they are infatuated with their crush. For instance, Elio’s simultaneous feelings of liking and disliking Oliver was something I could understand to some extent. Instead of feeling like I just binge-watched a cheesy TV show, reading this book gave me the impression that I was appreciating a sophisticated piece of art. I also enjoyed the first-person point of view because this allowed me to comprehend Elio’s feelings better than before. When I read the book, I felt like I was an observer that I was analyzing Elio’s thought process. Before reading this novel, I never quite understood why people would have physical and sensual desires. After reading this book, however, I understood the spiritual reason behind Elio’s desire to touch Oliver because he wanted to physically merge with Oliver. Besides the well-developed characters, I also enjoyed the author’s depiction of the setting and the time. Reading about Elio’s excursions with Oliver in the small town felt nostalgic and dreamy, making me fall in love with the Italian Riviera as if the location were a person. The author’s portrayal of town life as a quiet and simple one sounded quite appealing because the characters’ lives there were slow-paced yet satisfying. Although this comment may sound like a digression, the striking contrast between the characters’ relaxing lives and mine made me wonder whether I truly lived life to its fullest.
In short, I highly recommend Call Me By Your Name because of the beautiful relationship between Elio and Oliver that causes each of them to have their own transformations and realizations about their true sexual identities.