Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman.
Though I (shamefully) saw the movie before I read the book, Call Me By Your Name is a beautifully emotional story full of imagery both on and off the screen. Set during the summer in a small town in Italy, Call Me By Your Name tracks Elio’s complicated emotional relationship to a young American professor, Oliver, who’s staying for six weeks with the family to work on his book with the help of Elio’s father. Elio, seventeen, tries to figure out Oliver’s casual bravado, his simultaneous push-and-pull, as the days run into one another with morning jogs, bike rides to town, soft-boiled eggs, and endless hours under the Italian sun. There is a connection between Elio and Oliver, one that needs no words to be communicated. Yet Elio holds on to the ecstasy of pining as he bounces by the day, the hour, the minute, between hope and despair. Their story shows what it means to be truly intimate with another, and what it means to embrace yourself and life without shame.
The film was more than deserving of its Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and that’s being said with having watched the movie first. The imagery in the book is rich and sensual, and the movie interprets it perfectly and gorgeously. Elio and Oliver’s story is set on a backdrop of vibrant life, which comes through in both versions. I highly recommend watching the movie after (or before) reading the book. It’s a truly beautiful film with excellent music that remains true to the story (though the film spins the ending a bit), with phenomenal acting by Timothee Chalamet and real-life-Ken-doll Armie Hammer. Both the book and the movie are definitely for a more mature audience, as everything is quite adult and explicit. All beautifully written, but not much is left to the imagination. That being said, I think Aciman has created a tragic story about first love and its subsequent loss that will resonate with many.