“Find Me” by André Aciman | Book Review

The highly anticipated sequel to “Call Me By Your Name” was… meh.

Hide your peaches! Aciman, oh Aciman.

The book is split into four parts, each from the perspective of a different character, so for the purpose of this review I will be following that same structure as I talk about each section:


The longest section of the book perplexingly dedicated not to Elio or Oliver but to Elio’s father, Samuel Perlman. Now, we all collectively sighed and fell in love with Sami when Michael Stulbarg, the actor who plays him in the Luca Guadagnino film, gave that incredibly moving monologue near the end that paralleled the book. And while many of us appreciated reading and seeing a parent openly acknowledge their child’s love, despite the taboo of it being a homosexual love, I don’t think anyone really asked for a 200-page romance about Sami stumbling into a bullet-fast romance with an unlikeable woman he meets on a train after divorcing Elio’s mum.

Or, hey, maybe someone did. That person is probably to blame, then, for why this book focuses so extensively on Sami and leaves Elio and Oliver’s actual face-to-face scenes for an incredibly rushed eleven page fan service at the very end. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Deep breath, Lee, deep breath.

Miranda is the brash woman he meets. Sami is instantaneously smitten with her. They flirt, banter, she invites him to dinner with her dad who she is cooking for that night and they begin their eye-rolling, grimacing-while-reading, drawn-out love story. I truly struggled to find anything worth sticking around for. In fact, I would’ve just skipped this section entirely if it didn’t take up most of the actual book. And I probably wouldn’t be so harsh had I not bought the sequel to Call Me By Your Name, the story of Elio falling in love with Oliver, not some spin-off adventure with his father that I didn’t sign up for.

The chemistry between the two isn’t crafted expertly like Aciman’s original work with Elio and Oliver. The pacing is as if Sami and Miranda are teenagers simply eager to get each other naked. Age continuously comes up, Sami is older now and in a different stage of his life, but the pondering of time isn’t done in any refreshing, eye-opening way. It’s uncomfortable, recurring throughout the book, and reads more like Aciman’s private fantasy that he indulges through Sami. There’s no philosophy. It’s an older man getting his dick wet. Nothing new.


After Sami and Miranda meet Elio, Aciman throws the reader a bone mentioning Oliver briefly, and then the point of view switches to Elio in the second part. I devoured this section, keen to see the grown-up pianist Elio had become. The boy I read about being lovestruck and wracked with desire was there. There were remnants of him in this passage. It didn’t hold a candle to the same passion of Elio’s youthful summer but I appreciated seeing who Elio had become without Oliver.

However, yet again Aciman disappointed by throwing in a vapid, age-focused (shocker) romance with a man called Michel who repeatedly says he could be Elio’s father and is twice his age, yadda yadda. Elio being an old soul bonds with Michel significantly more than any of his previous lovers, who were comforts for just a night rather than long-lasting relationships. He finds he can’t forget Oliver and Michel encourages him to seek Oliver out and not let him slip through Elio’s fingers again. Michel seems to be the reawakening of Elio’s happiness – he helps him see that he hasn’t really been living. I’m not sure if Aciman was responding to backlash about the age gap between Elio and Oliver by making Elio date someone even older but it certainly came across that way. Cadenza and Tempo both focused a lot on the age discrepancies between the two respective couples and attempted to defend them but there was just a huge, uncomfortable elephant in the room reading Elio have sex with someone so much older. It felt inflammatory.

I also couldn’t help but feel unattached to Michel. He was more bearable as a secondary character than Miranda but I found myself glossing over his family backstory and the secrets of his childhood. They both felt like filler, cushioning for the upcoming, explosive reunion of the pair that the reader was desperately holding their breath waiting to see actually reunite. But instead of focusing on Elio’s despair without Oliver, how he hadn’t been whole since Oliver left, Aciman chose to fill more pages with narrative about side characters. If Elio and Oliver were a turkey, they had been completely hollowed-out and stuffed with the Samuels, the Mirandas, the Michels you didn’t really want to eat. I wanted meat and Aciman gave me stuffing.


Oliver’s section was even more of a step-up. Unfortunately, at this point, I was so invested that there was no going back. Perhaps it was because I had put up with so much meh that this section seemed decent. Or perhaps it was because the secondary characters were very much in the background. Either way, Oliver’s point of view was one that I did enjoy.

We knew after reading the first book that Oliver had gotten married. But in this passage Oliver plays with the idea of bedding a woman and a man, simultaneously, who are at one of his house parties. A lot of different aspects come into play, Oliver’s clear unhappiness with his stale life, the thrill of cheating since both of them have partners as well as Oliver being married, but it was the blatant bisexuality that I enjoyed reading. Since Call Me By Your Name was solely Elio’s voice I liked seeing Oliver’s mind wander, wanting a female thigh draped over one side of his body and a male thigh draped over the other.

This exploration of desire was much more reminiscent of Aciman’s original work. It was playful, forbidden, wanton. Quite the opposite of Elio’s repressed, closed-offness from the world and from love, Oliver wanted skin, a chase, to relive excitement and break out of his stagnant life. While Samuel and Elio both had desire scattered throughout their sections, Oliver’s wasn’t self-indulgent or oddly glamourised. It didn’t really happen.

That’s what I liked about it. I saw how badly Oliver needed those two guests to pay attention to him, to stay a little longer, to keep giving him lingering looks and touches, but he didn’t go through with anything. It was torturous and real. Oliver didn’t get what he wanted, whereas Samuel got very fictional instalove which doesn’t happen in real life and Elio was embraced by someone who understood and took care of him. I liked seeing struggle, grit, Oliver fought temptation and did the right thing by leaving his wife rather than cheating on her. And just as its title, this section is very lively and extremely short.

Da Capo

Elio & Oliver meet in Italy in the house where they fell in love and reconnect. They live together and basically adopt the son Sami had with Miranda, named after Oliver. They’re happy. For, as I mentioned earlier, eleven pages. After the unreasonably long romance of Sami and Miranda, Elio dating a man who could be his grandfather shoved down our throats and Oliver wishing he hadn’t made the mistake of getting married, the reader is rewarded with shameless fan service that lasts one tenth of Tempo.

I don’t doubt that Aciman struggled to follow up the greatness of the first book. Sequel syndrome is a common ailment that strikes most, if not all, series. There were just one too many purposeful creative choices that I couldn’t get behind. I hope Aciman is happy with the final product at least and this was the way he wanted to tell the story years later. But as a fan and reader, I can’t help but feel this is no more than a senseless cash grab to snowball off the success of the film. I read it so you didn’t have to. Treasure the first book, in all its glory and flaws, and let’s hope that Luca, when making the sequel, doesn’t use this book as inspiration.

“Are You The One” Season 8 Features An All Sexually Fluid Cast!

MTV Is Making History & Breaking Boundaries, Happy Pride…

(Image supplied by MTV)

The previous seven seasons of Are You The One, while entertaining and admittedly my guilty pleasure (don’t tell the straights), used the same monotonous heterosexual formula that nearly all reality TV series do… male + female + sex + drama. So, imagine my surprise and genuine delight when I find out scrolling through Twitter that this season cast 16 incredibly attractive, sexually fluid singletons. The inclusivity! The elegance!

For anybody who doesn’t know how the show works, typically there are 10 people who suck at relationships – 5 straight men and 5 straight women. They’re paired together through a matchmaking system but are unaware of who their perfect match is and have to find them while living together in a house for ten weeks. In the past they’ve taken contestants to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, amazing dream vacation spots, and they compete to win dates with someone of their choosing to try and figure out who their perfect match is. At the end of each week they have a matchup ceremony which tells them how many perfect matches they’ve chosen, but not who are the correct ones and who are the wrong ones. There’s also a million dollars, so love and money are on the line.

Not only is this season making history, it’s coming during a time where it’s extremely poignant and necessary. It seems as if every other day there’s another devastating new article about the LGBTQ+ community. Be it homophobic attacks like the one lesbian couple Melania and Chris endured on a bus in Camden, or the continuous murdering of trans women of colour in the U.S., small things like a TV show dedicating an entire season to LGBTQ+ people gives me hope.

In this video, the cast express their thoughts and feelings on representation in the media. One cast member said, “Part of the biggest motivation of why I’ve put myself out there is because growing up, I didn’t see anyone like myself. I believe that popular media is what influences culture the most and so, it’s like, instead of fighting the system, why don’t you work the system to your advantage.” Another added, “Some of us are not what you would want to maybe represent you, and that’s fine, but we’re real people. And we exist. And we deserve to be seen and we deserve to express how we feel.” The video ends with one cast member saying, “If you have a reality TV show that includes the entire spectrum of like, racial, sexual and gender identities, you’re gonna have a really interesting show.”

Put plainly, it might seem like just another silly, trashy MTV show that’s superfluous and artificial, but I picture myself when I was younger watching this exact show and looking around at all of the gorgeous couples, in love, fighting for love, wanting to be seen and wanting to be desired, and feeling the same way. Feeling like there wasn’t anybody in the world – let alone that house – that I would find that would be my perfect match. Now I imagine younger LGBTQ+ kids watching, seeing people who they can relate to, who they can look up to, be unashamedly in love. And know, most importantly, that it’s not wrong to be who you are, to love who you are and it’s not impossible to find. This opens up so many doors for so many issues in the LGBTQ+ community to be addressed; bi- and transphobia within the community, racism dressed up as “preference” in dating, the alarmingly high number of eating disorders, slut- and body-shaming, there’s so much this show and this cast can do to highlight and bring awareness to stuff that’s barely recognised because we barely have any representation to do so.

So much good can come from this show. I can already see the backlash MTV is probably getting from it but I truly applaud the producers and executives who greenlit this idea. I know it must not have been easy to convince a boardroom full of people to go through with it but it’s going to make it one step easier for more people to do the same and for more representation to be seen. This is a small step in the right direction.

You can learn more about the beautiful contestants here, and follow AYTO’s Instagram and Twitter.