Call Me By Your Name: Book Review

By Lois Gilhooly

This book transports the life, culture and sunshine of Italy into the reader's hands.

I came across this book after spending far too long watching Oscar nominations trailers and saw that this particular film was based on a book, so before booking my cinema ticket I decided to buy the book and I’ve been reading it since. 


Personally I think this book is ingenious, I personally cannot understand how the author, Andre Anciman manages to trap the reader inside the head of a seventeen-year-old boy in 80s who spends a summer on the Italian Rivera and keep us so eager to find out more of his thoughts and feelings while solely telling the story from one perspective. But was it so enthralling that you become so invested in this character, Elio, that you don’t want Anciman to change the perspective because you would never want to miss a single moment of Elio’s thoughts. 


Without spoiling this sensational book, I can tell you that the way Anciman describes Rome throws the reader into such a vivid image of the city, regardless if you have been or not you instantly feel a longing for it, ‘San Clementine Syndrome’ you might call it. There is no doubt in my mind that by reading this Italy comes seeping out of the pages and begs you to go there. The author spends the majority of the characters time in the Italian Rivera and explores its hills, summer skies and seas of which many of the major events of this book take place. 


Elio, the main character is so well developed that his feelings and thoughts on everything are near relatable to the reader. His coming-of-age and story about the change that a single summer can bring upon a person is extraordinary. We begin with an anxious young boy with little life experience- a classic introvert. What the reader is left to say goodbye to is a boy who has experienced probably the love of his life and by experiencing it has explored parts of his personality that most likely would never have surfaced. But to label this as a romance story is so far from the truth, the fact is that his story simply about the change another person has on someone and how deep that change can run and for how long, it utters no words of love but yet leaves you heartbroken. 


Anciman explores themes of homosexuality and bisexuality in Call Me By Your Name. One of the main inner conflicts between Elio is between deciphering his desire for both males and females, Anciman explores this through his thoughts and shows Elio’s liberation of social norms which are key to development to his growing character. Elio as a progressive character becomes more and more aware of other characters sexuality, sexual availability and attraction of people and his own nearer the ending of this book. It also goes into detail about how his new sexuality that has been developing within Elio affects the relationships between his family and friends he’s known for his whole life. In the book, it largely focuses on the familial relationship between his Elio’s father and himself and also touches lightly on the parenting of Elio and how this aided in his development of an open-minded individual.     


There are no sharp turns and plot twists only slow meanders which you did see coming but are reluctant to admit to them and wished them to turn another way. This book transports the life, culture and sunshine of Italy into the reader's hands and explores modern concepts which affect all young adults slowly transitioning into their future. It is a summer must read and will not leave you disappointed.