Centers on a blossoming romantic relationship between an intellectually precocious and curious 17-year-old American-Italian Jewish boy named Elio Perlman and a visiting 24-year-old American Jewish scholar named Oliver in 1980s Italy.
This is a graphic book, there’s no getting around that. You can say what you want about it being artistic or not. But, this book is graphic. They never hold back.
Call me by your name at its core is a beautiful love story. It’s not filled by negative gay stereotypes or ‘coming out’; simply a love story between two men. The story builds up for a quite a long time, leaving you with a huge amount of anticipation. So, when it finally pays off it is all the more satisfying for the reader, and it leads to one of the most beautiful parts of the book, there trip to Rome. This is when you saw the hight of their love. The romance felt authentic and true. Yes there were some issues, but I’ll talk about those later. It was all summed up at the ending, the moment you finish the book you feel like you have been on an emotional rollercoaster, all I could do was cry. When a book makes me cry like I myself have lost something, I know that it is a very good piece of art.
I watched the movie before I read the book, honestly I don’t think it changed that much. The movie and the book have a few plot lines that they keep out or add in. So although they follow the same broad brushstrokes they are slightly different. If I had to give you advice read the book first, but if you don’t want to it doesn’t matter.
Let’s talk about the positives. Firstly, this book as I have already raved about has a beautiful romance between Elio and Oliver. I could speak about this for hours, but I’ll keep moving forward. Secondly, the book was quite an easy read, the vocabulary wasn’t too hard, and nothing was overly complicated. This was the best decision as it opens the book up to a wider audience. Allowing more people to, hopefully, experience a great piece of modern gay literature.
Now for the negatives. Firstly, the age gap. No doubt you’ve already heard criticism about this, I mean Oliver is 24 and Elio is 17. Now depending on where you are from this could sound ok. However, considering that both characters are meant to come from the US originally there romance would be illegal there. Although, I have said many times that their romance is beautiful it could be taken to be predatory; which no one wants. Overall though I feel that this can be overlooked to a certain extent, people just need to stay aware of it. Secondly, the graphic scenes. Ok, yes this is a book so you can’t see it. However, some of the things described are a bit too much. The most notable of these is the peach scene. This is one of things that has made the movie so famous; people just couldn’t believe it. Reading the book you can’t quite believe it either. I’m fine with showing the artistic strokes in sex, but some of the scenes could definitely be left out.
All in all, I think the book does have its flaws. But it’s a must read for any gay teenager who wants to explore a love story they can relate too. I love this book, and I hope all of you do too!