In this spellbinding exploration of the varieties of love, the author of the worldwide bestseller Call Me by Your Name revisits its complex and beguiling characters decades after their first meeting.
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. (Goodreads)
I was apprehensive about reading this book. Call Me By Your Name is one of my all-time favourite books and the thought of a sequel had me scared. I know a lot of people were excited about it, but I was not one of them.
Was the author going to be able to recapture the emotions and magic that was Call Me By Your Name? Do I really want to know what happens next? I was content with Call Me By Your Name. It was amazing and beautiful and timeless and I didn’t want to ruin it for myself.
So, it took me a while to pick up Find Me. I finally did, and honestly, I wish I had just left it alone. I wanted a sequel! A sequel to the beautiful love story that is Elio and Oliver. And while I didn’t want some sort of fan service novel published by Aciman just to make the readers happy, I wanted a story about Oliver and Elio.
My problem is that it wasn’t about them, not really. They were featured in only the second half of the book and they only got 11 pages together! I trudged through this book just to get to the end and get 11 pages of Elio and Oliver together and I was so disappointed in everything I read before that I almost didn’t care.
Now you have been warned, I will be spoiling this book if you haven’t read it already because I need to talk about what actually happened in this book to explain my feelings about it.
The first half of this book is about Sami Perlman – yes, you read that correctly, your eyes are still working. Elio’s father, the amazing man with one of the most perfect monologues ever written in Call Me By Your Name, is the subject of half of Find Me, a book marketed as the SEQUEL to Call Me By Your Name.
Sami meets Miranda, a woman half his age and younger than Elio, on a train and they experience a very fast and passionate romance. I have no problem with the age difference between them, it was everything else. They fell in love in a day, decided they wanted to have children together, and get matching tattoos. It sounds like something two young adults do after way too many shots with the lights of Vegas in the background. I came here for a sequel to Call Me By Your Name, not whatever that was. Given Sami’s iconic moment and the way he is characterized in that novel, this felt like a huge deviation from the character we knew and it kind of ruined my view of Sami.
When we finally get Elio’s story, something I was waiting a hundred pages for, it felt like a recycled story of Sami’s. Elio meets Michel, a man who is a few decades older than him, and they fall in love. Not as quickly and passionately as Sami and Miranda, but it was another story of reading about the big age gaps between people.
Elio’s part wasn’t a complete loss though. There was a bit of a mystery element to it where Elio turns into a detective that I did like. It added a different element that helped sooth how annoyed I was with the recycled storyline. I did want more of Elio’s story. He was an interesting character in Call Me By Your Name and I wanted to see how he had grown from a teenager to an adult and see more of how his life went on after Oliver.
One thing I did look forward to with Find Me was getting Oliver’s perspective, which we didn’t have before. I found myself disappointed when we finally did get there. Oliver is now a professor and having a farewell party. At this party we meet two ‘friends’ of Oliver’s that he seems weirdly obsessed with. He ignores his wife the entire party for the fancy of these two younger and taken people. Finally at the end of his part of the book, he just picks up his life, leaves his wife and job behind and goes after Elio.
At which point we get 11 pages dedicated to Elio and Oliver. 11 pages that fell flat and barely featured a conversation between the two. Earlier in the book it is hinted that Elio went to visit Oliver. Hinted! I need that conversation. That was what I wanted. The awkward first meeting after their passionate love story, the words they had to say to each other, the tension, the memories. I needed that.
Overall, it wasn’t the story I wanted. In some ways, as I mentioned before, I appreciate that Aciman chose to tell the story he wanted, but if you’re going to call it a sequel, make it a sequel. This was Sami’s story, with some addition of Elio and Oliver. And honestly, I don’t think we needed a second book. Call Me By Your Name was perfect and amazing as it was and I feel like a sequel was only written because everyone wanted it.
There was one element of this novel that redeemed it for me, and it was the main reason I loved Call Me By Your Name so much, and that was Aciman’s writing. When I went to look at my notes from reading this book I realized that all I really did was highlight all the beautiful quotes I fell in love with while reading. I could write a whole blog about all the quotes from this book, but here’s just a few that stopped me in my reading tracks:
“I stopped waiting and learned to live without you.” (Tempo)
“A meaningless detail. Fate works forward, backward, and crisscrosses sideways and couldn’t care less how we scan its purposes with our rickety little befores and afters” (Cadenza)
“You have given me the days that justify the years without him” (Cadenza)Find Me by Andre Aciman
I did also love the theme of time and fate and how our actions can change the rest of our lives and how we cope and move on from the past. Also, this idea of loving the right person at the wrong time that was also prevalent in Call Me By Your Name.
Sami quotes Goethe at one point and says, “Everything in my life was merely prologue until now, merely delay, merely pastime, merely waste of time until I came to know you.”
That quote I think really sums up a lot of what this book was. Everything in these characters’ lives was merely prologue to where they end up. That Elio was meant to fall in love with Michel and Oliver was meant to get married and have kids, and that when the right time came and fate dealt its cards, the right person would come back into their life.
So, while I didn’t like the plot, the focus on Sami, and the lack of Elio and Oliver, it was still a well written book and read exactly as I would have expected from Aciman. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you want a sequel to Elio and Oliver’s story. If you are okay with reading a standalone story set in the world of Elio, Oliver, and Sami it is still a good book with a lot to say about life, love, time, and regret.
Have you read Find Me? I’d love to talk about it or Call Me By Your Name. Comment below and let’s share our thoughts!