Saturday, February 3, 2018
Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Holtzbrinck Publishers; Media Tie In edition (October 3, 2017)
I saw the movie when it first hit the theaters and love this slow-burn love story. I loved it so much I bought the book and plowed through it. This is one of the few times when I thought the movie was much better than the book.
The protagonist, Elio, a precocious seventeen year-old becomes infatuated with Oliver, a twenty-four year-old staying at their house as a summer intern for Elio’s father. Elio and Oliver, through several intellectual and esoteric conversations, become attracted to each other, and eventually fall in love. It is a simple love story. During this time, Elio constantly analyzes and second-guesses every innuendo-laden exchange with Oliver. This scrutiny was subtly done in the movie, but in the book it is relentless to the point of becoming annoying, and making Elio appear to be a self-absorbed, distressingly obsessed twit.
Yes, I get that a teenager can be self-absorbed and obsessed over love. I’m not so old I can’t remember what that was like. But that doesn’t mean I want to read page after page of it throughout an entire book. It gets overly tedious after the first fifty pages.
The prose is very well written and most often a joy to read. There were moments between the lovers that were poignant and relatable, sweeping me up into their relationship, but those moments were often swamped by page after page of Elio’s internal dialogue, worrying his feelings like a dog worries a bone. It is a beautiful story, yet it never reached the height or splendor of the movie.
Had I not loved the movie so much, I’m not sure I would have finished the book.