Sami Perlman is on his way to Rome. On the train, he meets Miranda, who is much younger than him, but somehow the two strike up a conversation that doesn’t want to end. Miranda invites Sami home to meet her father, just so that they can spend more time together.
Sami’s son Elio meets an older man, Michel, with whom he too finds an instant connection. But Elio’s heart still somehow belongs to his first love, Oliver.
Oliver, too, finds himself reaching for Elio a lot, thinking about a reunion, even though they haven’t seen each other in decades.
Find Me was the worst book experience I had in 2020. Generally, it was one of the worst book experiences I think I ever had. To say it was disappointing is to put it too mildly. It’s only due to its structure that I finished it at all – because it saved the bit that is actually interesting for the last 15 pages or so. I still want to scream just thinking about it.
I admit that I didn’t inform myself properly about the book – I just heard that it is a sequel to Call Me by Your Name and knew that I wanted to read it. I had very much loved parts of CMbYN and was looking forward to a happy end for Elio and Oliver, even if many years later, as Find Me promised.
Well. That is and isn’t what I got, I guess.
Let me explain: the book is divided into four parts. The first part, that takes up about half of the book (about 120 pages), is all about Sami falling for Miranda and vice versa. And if it isn’t enough that we have to read yet again about an old man falling for a young woman, she of course falls head over heels for him, too. And it was just so clearly a wish fulfillment fantasy from an old man, it made my skin crawl. What is more, it was just badly written. There is this sentence on page 6 that is still completely aggravating for me:
And yet, despite the rumpled look, she had green eyes and dark eyebrows.
I actually googled the book about halfway through this first part to make sure that I didn’t get a misprint with a different book under the right cover. That’s the first time I ever did that for sure. I was ready to quit the book forever about 50 pages in, but I couldn’t bring myself to before Elio and Oliver had actually shown up.
Finally at the end of this first part – let me remind you, that is about half-way through the entire novel – Elio makes an appearance and meets Miranda, too, and wishes his father luck with his new love and isn’t in the least bit weirded out that Miranda is younger than he is. Why would he be?
Anyway, the narration now jumps to Elio (part two has about 60 pages, I think), and it also jumps to another few years later, and to Paris, where it’s Elio’s turn to meet an older man (fortunately the age difference isn’t all that big here, but still, it sheds a new light on Call Me by Your Name where the age difference was just about ok in my book). Here the novel takes a sudden turn when Michel, the older man, shows Elio, who is a pianist, a muscial sheet he inherited from his father, written by a Jewish man whose trace is lost in the Second World War and they go on a historical research together to find out more.
But don’t worry, the novel doesn’t really stick with that part either. Before anything is really resolved here, it rather jumps to Oliver (part three has about 40 pages), and again another few years later, and to the USA. Oliver is having a good-bye party before moving across country where he got a new job at another university. He also invited two people (both much younger than him OF COURSE) he has a crush on, a man and a woman, and observes them as they befriend each other (both have their own partners, as does Oliver who is married with two children). Oliver keeps having conversations with Elio in his head and the entire chapter is written in a way that you never quite know when Oliver is talking to himself as Oliver and when he is talking to himself as Elio and when he is actually giving us a glimpse of the future and his plans. Does that sound annoying? BECAUSE IT ABSOLUTELY WAS.
And then we jump again to the last part (about 15 fucking pages) where Oliver and Elio are actually together again and have been for a while and they are living in Italy, but they are on holiday in Greece right now, because they needed a breather. That’s because in Italy they live not only with Elio’s ageing mother, but also with Miranda and her and Sami’s son Oliver (Sami has passed a few years earlier). And it’s a little crowded. But at the same time, the narration claims Little Oliver as Oliver and Elio’s true child, because Sami is dead and Miranda doesn’t matter.
I really cannot tell you how much I hated everything about this book. I hated it so much, I have to be careful that it doesn’t completely ruin Call Me by Your Name for me. I hated the way it feels cobbled together, I hated the way it is written, I hated that it completely ruined the happy end that it should have given (and crams it into 15 pages where we don’t even get the emotional moment of reunion in a proper way). I can only recommend that you not read it.