Dear Find Me by André Aciman,
I had such high hopes for you.
You were advertised as a sequel to Call Me By Your Name, the iconic romance novel that took the bookworm world by storm a few years ago. Announcement of your publication immediately sparked a dozen questions in my mind: What would happen between Oliver and Elio? Where would the story take place? When would the story take place? Would you have the same idyllic Italian countryside setting as CMBYN? Would you have the same beautiful writing and the same beautiful atmosphere and invoke the same heart-wrenching, beautiful emotions? Perhaps it is unfair of me to have viewed you in relation to your predecessor all along. But I couldn’t help it.
Unfortunately, I think expecting (and hoping) you to be a direct sequel to CMBYN ruined you a bit for me. The entire time I listened to your audiobook I just kept thinking, Why was this book written again? Which sounds awful, I know. But you didn’t seem to continue on with that story in any meaningful way. I don’t mean that it wasn’t meaningful in general, but that the fact that some of the characters had to do with CMBYN did not seem to add any great significance to you at all. These characters could have been completely brand new, and I feel like they would have still achieved a similar affect.
Moreover, your different narrators and perspectives seemed to blur together, so much so that at certain times I had to remind myself who was even speaking. While this could have just been an audiobook issue regarding focus, I also think it’s indicative of how you felt sort of like a dreamy blur. Perhaps that’s your whole point–a blur of sex and affairs and passion and lust and longing and nostalgia and landscapes–but, if so, it could have felt more intentional rather than accidental.
I also had an issue with what seemed to be one of your major themes: that love is inherently fleeting, that we should strive for passion, that love is not meant to last. And while it is true that not all love does last, you seemed to have a flippant rather than merely skeptical stance towards love. It almost seemed as though you were positing that humans by nature are programmed to always want a different lover, a new and exciting affair.
“It’s just that the magic of someone new never lasts long enough. We only want those we can’t have. It’s those we lost or who never knew we existed who leave their mark. The others barely echo.”Find Me by André Aciman
As with your blurred feeling, perhaps this skeptical outlook on love is entirely purposeful and is the message you’re trying to get across. But reading you did not make me feel warm and fuzzy; rather, it made me worried about the fact that some people are like this. As someone who values deep, non-superficial, lasting relationships, I would not like to live in the world of Elio and Oliver and co. In short, reading you made me stress, not swoon.
If I had to describe you in a single word, I would say that you are self-indulgent. While you were beautifully written and had so much potential, you nevertheless felt rather unnecessary in the context of CMBYN. Had you been an unrelated novel about completely different characters, I probably would have liked you more.
I’m sorry I did not like you more, Find Me. I hope that other bookworms will find more enjoyment in you than I did.