When we grow up, where do we go? This is the question running through the heart of Find Me, Andre Aciman’s long-awaited sequel to his 2007 novel Call Me By Your Name. Set decades after the ending of the first installment, we again find ourselves with Samuel, an illustrious but bumbling and lonely academic; Elio, Samuel’s son and a talented and dreamily idealistic pianist; and Oliver, the man with whom Elio had an affair, who has since developed his own brand of charismatic academic-cum-family man. What results is a story about time and how we watch it move endlessly forward and forward, while certain things stick with us and many memories don’t.
It is difficult to avoid a sophomore slump when the book you wrote has become canon for anyone who is either gay or believes in love in countries the world over. It is even more difficult, I imagine, when said book has since been turned into a blockbuster film that catapulted current teen heartthrob Timothée Chalamet to stardom. Aciman avoids this slump deftly, paying homage to the characters he created whilst serenading the reader through their journeys of growth—as human and flawed as these may be.
Split into four sections: Tempo, Cadenza, Capriccio, and Da Capo, Aciman’s fixation on the classics—this is not a novel in which any of the characters possess interests that could be viewed as decidedly millennial—is very much present in the novel, both in theme and in voice. As we follow Samuel, Elio, and Oliver through their respective sections, we are given long, descriptive, lyrical, and emotive streams of conscious in which—ironically—not much time passes, and yet it seems like, in every moment, something is changing. I hadn’t given serious consideration to the fact that all of us feel something different from one minute to another—this is apparent in the ways we move and look and talk to one another—until I read this book.
In real life it is assumed that when we break up with someone, we will, eventually, move on. With time and with distance and with everything else that we’re told to take when we’re hurting, the assumption is that we will one day wake up and move through the world as if nothing had ever happened. In Aciman’s world, this assumption is completely flipped on its head, and that is what makes Find Me so irresistible. The idea that three people of vastly different ages and backgrounds and personalities can all spend decades, on some subconscious level, holding out for a certain person—whether they met them years ago or dreamt them up in their head—to materialize in front of them, and expect them to be that very thing, that very answer to their entire lives, is one that’s too good to pass up for a reader as intelligently romantic as the type who will pick up this book.
In saying that, it has to be acknowledged that we don’t all lean towards the sentimental. Some of the long-winded descriptions of Miranda, Samuel’s love interest, for instance, can be exhausting to read in their close analysis of her every move. But, in fairness, when you’re in love, is it possible to really just let anything be? For readers who want to know what constitutes a happy ending; what things change and don’t change at all as we move through life; what it means to love and be loved: rendered in Aciman’s gorgeously meandering yet measured prose, Find Me will provide at least one answer.