BookBrowse Reviews Find Me by Andre Aciman

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Find Me

by Andre Aciman

Find Me by Andre Aciman X
Find Me by Andre Aciman
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2019, 272 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2020, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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André Aciman provides snapshots from the stories of Elio, Oliver and Samuel ten years after the events of Call Me by Your Name in this sequel with broad appeal as a standalone.

In Call Me by Your Name, first published in 2007, André Aciman introduced Elio, an adolescent boy living with his family in the Italian Riviera, and Oliver, the charming graduate student houseguest with whom he falls in love. The book charts their passionate affair and concludes with a bittersweet crescendo; a tricky ending to expand into a sequel without sacrificing the perfect balance of realism and romanticism that caused Call Me by Your Name to resonate with so many readers. Find Me not only rises to that challenge but exceeds it. While a prior attachment to these characters is arguably necessary to get the full emotional payoff of the sequel, it could otherwise be read as a standalone; knowledge of the first book's plot is not essential.

Find Me reads like a frenzied fairytale; it's every bit as indulgent and beguiling as its predecessor, though it asks more of its readers' patience. Anyone picking it up hungry to dive back into Elio and Oliver's story will first have to abide a detour through a novella-length chapter about Elio's father, Samuel, who meets a charismatic young woman, Miranda, on a train to Rome. Set ten years after the events of Call Me By Your Name, it's an opening that suggests this book might eschew the youthful headiness of Aciman's previous novel—the narrator is much older, and the conversation that unfolds between Samuel and Miranda is at first measured and guarded. However, their chance meeting escalates into something intense and ardent as they engage in a mutually idyllic love affair that slowly but surely pulls the reader back into the throes of passion reminiscent of the affair between Elio and Oliver.

Though this chapter isn't the most natural segue from the ending of the previous book, it ties up a loose end for one of the more subtly tragic characters, and also charts the thematic course for what's to follow. The existence of fate is a question that dogs each of the characters through their narratives. Samuel and Miranda, for example, wonder how they might have gone on with their mundane lives if they hadn't spoken to each other on the train. Samuel's passionate desire to reclaim the love and lust that were lost from his life mirrors Elio's own melancholic journey, searching in all his prospective partners for the spark that was ignited by Oliver. Find Me isn't so much about moving forward as it is about moving back in time, recreating lost passion, reigniting lost flames.

Subsequent to Samuel and Miranda's story, which only touches the periphery of Elio's, we finally get to revisit Call Me by Your Name's chief protagonists—first Elio, then Oliver. Each of the novel's four chapters is shorter than the one that came before, each a dizzying vignette that chronicles a brief period of the character's adulthood, laying out their overarching dissatisfaction that stems from aching for a relationship that ended over a decade ago.

This isn't the kind of wish-fulfilling sequel where the long-lost lovers fall into each other's arms on the second page and carry out a fantasy of a relationship, and it's destined to disappoint anyone who expects that of it. Instead, Aciman revisits these characters in order to ask deeper questions of his readers. Can the euphoria of first love ever be recreated? Is it worth sacrificing something sturdy to chase after something fleeting? Was what Elio and Oliver had in Call Me By Your Name any less real simply because it was so brief? Find Me is perhaps more contemplative than its predecessor, but ultimately no less enchanting, and arguably even more affecting. The unhappiness, emotional distance, and unspent desire that these characters must first grapple with in order to attain closure makes the conclusion all the more gratifying.

Reviewed by Rachel Hullett

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in November 2019, and has been updated for the August 2020 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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