A teenage love story, book to movie, nominated for several Oscars now, just “read” via audiobook, and astounding. How to describe a book that moved you to tears, even though the leads are gay, and the second man is a twenty-something, Oliver, and Elio is the household son, aged 17. So my first reservation is whether an adult and a 17 year old is considered child abuse, but my own inclination is no, it isn’t, being that I know what I was up to when I was 17 myself, at college then. On the edge of adulthood, taking responsibility for self.
Elio is awakened to those intense emotional urges, and doubts, when Oliver comes to his house one summer in Lombardy, Italy, working for Elio’s father, who is a college professor. It is sublime to listen to the narrator, who describes the scenes they frequent, the activities they enjoy, even the preparations of food by the servants in the house. You feel like you are there, in high summer heat, soaking in the countryside…ahhh! Such a setting for young love, and so true to form, with other friends, confusion, flirting, pulling back, saying little, doing even less, then signals shift, and dreams are fulfilled, and the joy of that experience is just searing, taking me back to my own youth as well.
Who can recall the first kiss, the first flirtation, the first touch, and the second, the third? The swims at the beach, far out in the calm waters, in my case, Long Island Sound, Orchard Beach, the Bronx. Or Jones Beach, Long Island…Young lovers, with run arounds of the parents, as they are protective of their daughters especially…Yes, I remember, keenly. Beach clubs even, private places that only allow people in, by membership. Private beaches too.
Elio and Oliver hit me with their love, even though gay love is different, but in its nature, not so different, from the emotions I felt with young men, back then. You had to hide both, and be extraordinarily careful, in what and when you did anything. It was suspect to engage in such things when 17 years old. Yes, I remember, fondly. Men who were there, and still are friends today. But the memories are long ago, and far away, and the doors are closed to those early experiences, for me. We have all moved on, as Oliver has too, by the end of the audiobook. But Elio only has his memories, as I do as well.
And I don’t accept my fate, and never will! Such love should be shared with someone! I am however working on it, however it may be too late, being that this writer is soon 54 years old, far removed from the 17 year old I was. But that girl is still within, spewing hot lava, as a volcano, ready to pounce! Watch out, the burn is still very much there. At least now someone shares my affection, BUT he is far away, and with an unusual kind of job, so it is still solitary lady, with lava flowing, as an allegory anyway….