Warning: This post contains spoilers for Find Me, the sequel to Call Me By Your Name.
Fitting in seamlessly with the rest of Aciman’s oeuvre, Find Me is concerned with bright and unfaded eras of a person’s life, the physics of instant and deep connections, love (without ever saying the word), age gaps, the modern Jewish experience, the Levant, the lessons of Ancient Greece. It’s 268 pages of Aciman’s favourite melody.
What Find Me is not, however, is fan fiction. Fans looking for an easy epilogue to Oliver and Elio’s tale may be disappointed by Aciman’s sequel. Elio’s father, Samuel, is the real star of Find Me — he gets an epic love story of his own in the book’s first section. Elio and Oliver’s names don’t appear for pages and pages.
For the open-minded, though, Find Me will have the same effect as its predecessor. It’s a book that shakes you into asking yourself, “Am I living the right life?”
Aciman embedded a message to all of us CMBYN stans, hoping for another instalment of the sun, sea, and Italy. Oliver tells Elio, “We’re not going to feed off the past, are we? I’ve loved a younger Elio and you a younger me. They’ve made us who we are. Let’s not pretend they never existed, but I don’t want to look back.”
Don’t look back.
What happened at the end of Call Me By Your Name?
They’re a continent removed, and in different life stages, but Elio and Oliver are exactly the same. When they’re together, Oliver and Elio are instantly back on the right track, the right life — not this unsatisfying path they both had taken.
“It would finally dawn on us both that he was more me than I had ever been myself, because when he became me and I became him in bed so many years ago, he was and would forever remain, long after every forked road in life had done its work, my brother, my friend, my father, my son, my husband, my lover, myself,” Elio says.
At the end of the book, they meet up five years later at the house in Italy. Elio’s father has died. They reminisce. And fin.
Find Me, luckily, rewrites this last bit. The book returns to the time before Samuel’s death, and then changes Elio and Oliver’s reunion in Italy.
Come on! What happens in Find Me?
We’ll tell you. But first, a warning to anyone who was put off between Elio and Oliver’s age gap in CMBYN: Find Me book may not be for you. Nearly every couple in Find Me has a significant age gap. In fact, Elio and Oliver — now in their 30s and 40s — are the most “conventional” pairing.
Tempo: Section One
In the first section, Elio’s father Samuel finally experiences the kind of Great Love his son did at the tender age of 17. In Aciman’s universe, emotional intensity is the gift that makes life vivid and meaningful. Sam gets to be a teenager again.
Years prior, Sam and his wife realised that their son, Elio, had been keeping them together. Their lives had diverged. So, they got divorced. Now she’s remarried and living in Northern Italy. He’s living in Florence and is traveling to Rome for a lecture — still obsessed with Ancient Greece, we see.
Sam makes the fateful decision to sit across from a young photographer named Miranda, and so begins a whirlwind tour through emotions. Elio makes a brief appearance in the first section. He and his father are still incredibly close.
Cadenza: Section Two
Finally, onto Elio! At this point, Elio lives in Paris and is working as a professional musician. He meets Michel, a wealthy older man, at a concert – because online dating truly has no place in an Aciman novel, where life’s important moments are all spontaneous.
Cadenza gives a glimpse of what the past two decades have been like for Elio, especially when it comes to dating. He cannot wholly give himself to anyone.
There’s also a classical music-related mystery, for a spice
Capriccio: Section Three
Across the Atlantic, Oliver and his wife, Micol, are leaving New York for the rural university after a year-long fellowship — but not before throwing a going away party. Much to Micol’s confusion, Oliver invites two much-younger acquaintances to the party: His friend from yoga class, Erica, and his friend from university, Paul.
Then, he spends the rest of the evening fantasising about a possible threesome. He does the mental math of courtship. What does a hand here mean? How about that glance? What does it add up to?
At the end, 44-year-old Oliver comes to the conclusion that he’s lived a “dead man’s life” for the past 20 years, and that he needs to find Elio. “We had never really parted and that, regardless of where we were, who we were with, and whatever stood in our way, all he needed when the time was right was simply to come and find me,” Elio later writes of Oliver’s decision.
Where does Find Me leave Elio and Oliver?
Oliver and Elio’s reunion takes place where it must: the coastal house in Italy.
They have company. Sadly, Sam died, but Miranda lives in his house with her and Sam’s 7-year-old son, also named Oliver (after Elio’s Oliver, who had a lasting impact on the Perlman family). Elio’s mom, who can’t live alone because she suffers from dementia, also is there with her caretaker. “I’m sure everyone could hear if you so much as coughed at night,” Elio says of the crowded old house, reframing the entire reading of every sex scene in CMBYN.
Do Elio and Oliver slide right back into the old ways immediately? Not quite. They’re, uh, awkward together. “We knew things were going to be different but we couldn’t quite grasp the wish to rush headlong into what we’d once had years before we could stir our reluctance to be in bed together,” Elio says. Oliver hadn’t been with a man since Elio, which adds to his nervousness. Eventually, it happens — no mention of peaches.
The next day at breakfast, Oliver and Elio decide Little Ollie, is their son (meaning it’s as if he was created for them to raise, even though they were not involved in his conception). Miranda, Ollie’s mother, is not consulted on the matter.
At the end of the book, Oliver and Elio are on a three-week tour of the Mediterranean. They’ve just arrived in Alexandria, the Egyptian city where Aciman grew up. Importantly, they stop at the home of C.P. Cavafy, a famous Alexandrian poet of Greek descent.
Cavafy would probably have a lot to say to Elio and Oliver. As a gay man in the early 20th century, Cavafy was unable to live and love openly. His thematic obsessions complement the ones found in Find Me: memory, exile from the past, lives that went un-lived. Elio mentions his poem “The Afternoon Sun,” in which Cavafy describes a room he once occupied with a lover. The room has changed, but Cavafy can feel the emotional reverberations of his memories, as if only he can see the real room.
Oliver and Elio have that kind of x-ray vision, too: Every room in the Italian villa houses a memory of that long-ago summer. However, Oliver insists that they look forward into the future. Unlike Cavafy, who died alone, they have the privilege of having a future together.
At the end of Find Me, Oliver and Elio are honeymooning in their new life together. The right life. May we all find ours.