An elegant, memorable story of enduring love across the generations.

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FIND ME

Aciman (Eight White Nights, 2010, etc.) picks up the storyline of his best-known novel to trace the lives of its actors 20 years on.

In Aciman’s breakthrough novel, Call Me By Your Name, the young protagonist, Elio, is reassured by his father that there’s no wrong or shame in loving another man—in this instance, a visiting American named Oliver. In this sequel, Sami, the father, is the man freshly in love, 10 years later. Southbound for Rome on a train that takes forever to arrive, he falls into easy, sometimes-teasing conversation with young Miranda, who cuts to the chase after a few dozen pages by saying, “When was the last time you were with a girl my age who’s not exactly ugly and who is desperately trying to tell you something that should have been quite obvious by now." Indeed, and love blossoms, complete with intellectual repartee with Miranda’s bookish, sophisticated father. Fathers indeed loom large in Aciman’s tale: Though sometimes far from the scene, they reverberate, as with the father of Michel, an older man to whom Elio becomes attached in the second part of the novel. Does he miss his late father, Elio asks, to which Michel replies, “Miss him? Not really. Maybe because, unlike my mother who died eight years ago, he never really died for me. He’s just absent.” Of a philosophical bent, Michel ponders wisely on the differences between his younger and older selves, prompting Elio to recall his one great love. Somehow, perhaps not entirely believably, Oliver, well established back home in the States, receives that brainwave (“It’s me, isn’t it, it’s me you’re looking for…”), for, with quiet regrets, he ends a long marriage and makes his way back into the past—the future, that is—to find Elio once again. Aciman blends assuredly mature themes with deep learning in which the likes of Bach and Cavafy and several languages grace the proceedings, and his story is touching without being sentimental even if some of it is too neatly inevitable.

An elegant, memorable story of enduring love across the generations.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-15501-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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