Publication Date: October 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Summary: 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.
When I finished Call Me By Your Name in 2018, it lingered in my mind and entrapped me in its romantic, hazy world that I never wanted to escape. The prose and musings tucked between its pages changed me, as a reader, and I wish that Find Me had the same effect. But I’ve realized, after processing the story for a bit, that this novel is not necessarily a sequel to CMBYN but a companion novel for those curious about Elio and Oliver after the events from the first novel.
It explores Elio, Oliver, and Elio’s father, Samuel, lives after the events of CMBYN which can be seen as a stand-alone, in my opinion. Aciman even hints, in this novel, that one can make up their own ending to his first novel while other readers may seek out a clear-cut ending in Find Me. To me, this is simply a continuation of their lives to explore how they are as adults who are tired of settling in all areas of life (careers, relationships, marriages, etc.) and are ready to seek out the people and things that bring them true joy in life.
What I Enjoyed the Most about Find Me
This novel was split into four parts, and I’m very surprised to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Elio’s father, Samuel’s, point of view the most as we see him fall for a stranger he met on the train one morning. Their love is explosive, chaotic, impulsive, and really pleasing to see because Samuel made such an impact, to me, in CMBYN. Being able to explore his character further was a pleasant surprise.
I really enjoyed how his story explores the idea of two people who have settled in every area of their lives are finally putting their own happiness first. While their love may be insta-lovey, seeing them happy and completely at ease with one another was so refreshing, and it makes me happy to see Samuel get his happy ending that he told Elio he had been searching for all his life in CMBYN.
Some Details I Didn’t Necessarily Enjoy about Find Me
As we follow Elio’s perspective, we get to see him falling for a man twice his age (Aciman seems to have a love for age gaps, and while I’m not complaining about it, having it prevalent in every relationship is a bit much) whose only role in the novel is to remind Elio that he needs to find Oliver, again, in order to live a life free of regrets. I didn’t understand why Aciman spent so much of our time following Elio and Michel together when they had very little chemistry as a couple. It seems as though they come together due to shared loneliness and the need to cling onto another to remind themselves that they are alive, and that makes me incredibly sad.
It seems as if Elio lives his entire life with the belief that he needs to cling onto others in order to feel any semblance of happiness, and I wish I could shake his shoulders and say, “You don’t need another person’s love and acceptance to feel complete or happy in life. That isn’t healthy.”
Another detail that made this novel fall flat for me was the fact that we hardly get a reunion between Elio and Oliver which is basically the entire reason this companion novel exists. We all hung onto the edges of our seats, wondering what happens after the last page of CMBYN is turned, but we don’t even get to see their initial reunion which I’m sure is flooded with emotion and waves of memories they share together. While Aciman’s first novel is full of longing and romantic tension, Find Me fell short of that. There were internal pining and angst in Elio and Oliver’s internal dialogue, but once they are together, I didn’t feel that spark between them that melted the hearts of readers around the world in CMBYN.
All in All Thoughts about Find Me
While I did not absolutely adore Find Me, like I had hoped I would, I didn’t hate it either. I’m very neutral about it all. I did enjoy exploring Samuel’s character and his captivating love story with a woman who brings out his spontaneity and teaches him how to let go of his past and live in the present, unabashedly. As for Elio and Oliver’s perspectives? I felt more satisfied by the ending of CMBYN than by this novel which barely explores how Elio and Oliver’s relationship, as grown men, will play out. To me, Find Me felt like a separate entity than a sequel. It left me with more questions and didn’t satisfy my need to see Elio and Oliver have their happy endings.
This isn’t to say I hated the novel. It is well written and I continually highlighted passages and musings that stirred something in my soul. While this was written in an atmospheric and beautiful way that’s unique to Aciman himself, I didn’t feel satisfied by it and wish there was more to this story, but then again, maybe we should have let things rest at the end of CMBYN.
*A physical copy of Find Me was provided to me by the publisher. This in no way affects my thoughts about the book itself. Thank you, FSG for gifting me a copy.*
Have you read Call Me By Your Name? What do you think of it? Also, if you’d like to see specific details in my book reviews that you think I may be missing, please let me know!