Picture vs. Page – Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name’ is the story of a crush. A love affair between Elio, a high schooler, and Oliver, a PhD student from the University that Elio’s father teaches at. There is a melancholic romantic tone in the novel’s writing style, which is duplicated expertly in the cinematography with sweeping vistas of the Italian countryside, and lengthy silences throughout the narrative.

The books narration has a beautiful cadence and reads like Elio’s journal, complete with inner musings, pontifications, daydreams and erotic fantasies. However I found it difficult to immerse myself into and speed-read the entire novel. The writing style did not sit well with me. It felt fanciful and full of itself… selfish. I found myself craving for more structure, more dialogue. For the film adaptation, with a slower pace too, but it worked a bit better because we get countryside and cinemaphotography to keep the viewer engaged.

Elio as a protagonist felt like a mix of intelligence, petulance, and aggressive/possessive hormone fuelled adolescence for the novel. However, the film version of Elio (played by Timothée Chalamet) feels a little more mature and less predatory – maybe because we are spared his inner monologue.

It felt uncomfortable the boy lusting after a man, Oliver, more than 7 years his senior. (This situation is legally statutory rape in our country.) Elio’s overtly flirtatious nature – and his intentions sometimes returned. A mix between grooming behaviour of a paedophile from Oliver and removing himself from the equation as to not be overcome by his desires. The teacher in me felt extremely uncomfortable. Elio and Oliver wouldn’t be sneaking around and trying to hide their actions if they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong.

Then in the novel, Oliver gives in to his desires and confirms to me of being the paedophile he is. Elio has regret, then turns into a tremendous flirt only to then go and have sex with Mariza… completely ruled by his lower region. What a floozy. This book is making me feel sick where everyone is throwing their cat around and ignoring the ramifications. For having such an inconsolable crush on Oliver, when Elio sleeps with Marzia on a whim and apparently likes it, wants to brag about it. No loyalty, no conviction. This increased my loss of respect for Elio. We get some detail in the film adaptation with this encounter, its clumsy and short (realistic) but what is it with Elio then chasing after Oliver straight after having sex with Marzia? (Esther Garrel) That’s effed up. Elio comes across as insensitive. Considering this is a romantic/erotic tale and the book gets explicit at times, the film is not as sexually charged as the book.

Oliver (played by Armie Hammer) makes the first move (pedo) in the film adaptation and Elio becomes sexually aggressive out of the blue. It did not feel like there was a build-up of tension or feeling between the two. Oliver is an idiot for instigating the encounter and then citing he couldn’t do any more so they had nothing to be ashamed of. Then it seems his mother gives him permission to start a relationship with a grown man… what tha?! Besides the nature of this story all the actors gave a beautiful and believable portrayal and I feel added further nuance to the story I did not get out of the novel.

Did they seriously watch each other pooh and marvel at it in the toilet bowl. *retching sounds* The other thing that had me throwing up in my mouth is of Oliver eating the peach that Elio had climaxed into. Some may see it as twistedly romantic in a symbolic way, but I couldn’t bet over the hygienic aspect of it. I am such a clean freak. I want to scream triggered! It’s hilarious in a meta perspective. The pooh scene is omitted in the film version of ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ and the peach scene is much more subtle (Oliver does not eat the peach though.) However there are a few scenes that jumped out at me that did not appear in the novel version: The dancing scene had me in stitches. Plus, Elio and his friends smoke a lot. Ew! But I guess it translates well for the time period this story is set in (1980’s) and the European town. Adding to that, we also see a lot of underage drinking.

There was an understated – delicate even – understanding of Elio’s father which I found endearing in the novel. However his hands-off approach leaves little to be desired. I would have preferred a father figure to help educate and guide Elio, instead of leaving his son to flounder around in the dark and figure things out by himself, and potentially placing him in dangerous situations. Elio’s father’s talk in the film adaptation makes you realise he treats Elio like an adult shows that his parents did not view their relationship as paedophilia. Father confesses he loved a man once too. Again, an excellent portrayal by Michael Stuhlbarg.

For the film he translation of the story Elio’s mum (Amira Casar) reads makes and important turning point in the story – giving Elio permission to talk about his feelings… and something I don’t remember occurring or standing out to me (maybe because I ended up skim-reading the book)

I can appreciate the romantic symbolism, the artistic eye, but the situation in the real world kinda makes me angry. It’s not about being gay, but about placing a boy in a sexually vulnerable situation where the parents do not seem to care, (in fact they encourage Elio to find his sexuality and explore) and an older man allegedly grooming a high school student – even if he wrestles with his conscience – grosses me out. If this were about two boys around the same age I would have liked it so much better. I feel the artistic tone of the writing covers up the reality of how inappropriate this relationship is. ‘Call Me By Your Name’ feels like a gay version of ‘Lolita.’

SPOILERS: Oliver got engaged?? This book/film is so messed up. The build-up for this relationship. The forbidden love of it all and then they both move on so quickly. It’s hard to believe they were in love – rather lust – because the events belie the tone of ‘Call Me By Your Name.’

Where the book and film both left me feeling a little unsettled, the film was also sad in a kind of way, both in tone and storyline.

I will not recommend this. There was no lesson to learn from the characters – the whole book read like some teen boy’s father-figure sexual fantasy. I couldn’t get over the age difference, one of them being an underage boy to be able to appreciate the love story, or the coming of age aspect. I was uncomfortable the entire time. I won’t be reading the sequel ‘Find Me’ either – after reading reviews and how it deals with more fantasy gratification adultery, I’m sorry, I just can’t.

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Off the Page’ (#2 Between the Lines) by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

A cute magical romance where the main character is a literary book boyfriend.

Off the Page (#2 Between the Lines) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 368

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Delilah and Oliver shouldn’t be together. But they are together. And just as they’re getting used to the possibility that happily ever after may really, truly be theirs, the universe sends them a message they can’t ignore: they won’t be allowed to rewrite their story.

Delilah and Oliver must decide how much they’re willing to risk for love and what it takes to have a happy ending in a world where the greatest adventures happen off the page.

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This was simply a lot of fun to read. It’s nice to indulge in some silliness in my reading on occasion, and ‘Off the Page’ is just what the doctor ordered.

Off the Page’ certainly elevates everything that happened in ‘Between the Lines.’ More magic and more characters involved with the fantastical world. We see a serious side slip in too; plus the crux of why we pick up this kind of novel in the first place – the romance. The pacing is pretty good, though towards the end the story keeps flopping about and adding a twist here and there and dragged the narrative out a little longer than necessary. But that’s my one big criticism… which wasn’t a huge thing in the overall experience of reading ‘Off the Page.’

We see the characters get arcs, grow and develop. We see the universe inside the fairy tale expand, and the world outside of the story book expand through the fantasy characters eyes. It was such a delight.

The plot was very predictable, but deliciously so. Though those few little twists got me right in the heart muscle.

Off the Page (#2 Between the Lines) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Told in alternating perspectives between Delilah, Oliver, and Edgar, each chapter moves the story forward and lets the ensemble cast shine. Usually I’m not a fan of multiple perspectives, or of so many characters, but Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer made it work. Each character was individual and had a distinct voice. And despite it having been 3 years since having read the debut ‘Between the Lines’ it was easy to pick up the narrative and get sucked into the world without needing a refresher. It is testament to great story and character crafting.

The conclusion ends on a note that wraps up all of the major plot points – but there are still some ties left loose which could lead to another sequel; but given five years have passed since ‘Off the Page’ was published it doesn’t look that promising, but never say never.

I’d recommend this to those who want a light fun read, or maybe as a pallet cleanser between novels with heavier topics. Even though it is stated that it could be read as a standalone, I don’t think you would truly be able to appreciate the journey/relationship of Delilah and Oliver without reading the first novel ‘Between the Lines.’

Overall feeling: a solid effort.

Off the Page (#2 Between the Lines) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Off the Page (#2 Between the Lines) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Between the Lines’ (#1 Between the Lines) by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Promising, cute with a great concept, but a little underwhelming.

Between the Lines Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

No. of pages: 353

From Goodreads:

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.


Wondering if this was miscategorised and instead middle grade? It lacked the complexity and intensity I’ve come to expect in YA. ‘Between the Lines’ is a very easy read – kind of plain in actual fact.

The concept and story is attractive and engaging, but it lacked pace and depth. Figuring this to be my first Jodie Picoult novel, and a YA one at that – especially after all my friends keep telling me she is a must read author – that ‘Between the Lines’ would be a winning combination.

Instead, I found it repetitive in parts, though I liked that the journey wasn’t easy for the characters to get what they wanted. But I wasn’t totally satisfied with the ending.

It is a saccharine sweet tale on all fronts. Though, the original fairy tale excerpts had a very Harry Potter/Simon Snow tone with exaggerated, obscure events and a hint of sarcasm. I think I enjoyed those elements more than the main story. A dragon with braces, feminist mermaids, and a dog who was a boy in love with a princess – totally amazeballs.

I found Deliliah our protagonist not only a girl after my own heart being an outsider and booklover; but on the other hand she felt a little desperate and whiny. Though I have to admit, it falls in the realistic expectations of what you get from a fifteen year old girl, so I really can’t fault Picoult and Van Leer’s depiction of Deliliah.

Between the Lines Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe other POV was told from Oliver’s perspective. The fictional love interest. I liked his unique perspective on our world, and the mechanisms of his own. How letters and words make up the physical forms of the world and characters in the book. How Oliver marvelled at a cell phone, a computer, and even a hair dryer. He was so much more interesting to me than Deliliah.

A cute addition to this book were the illustrations dispersed throughout – whether silhouetted characters in the margins, of the full page colour depictions of Oliver and his world.

The pacing felt slow. This should be an easy novel to fly through, and I was able to consume large chunks of this book in a single sitting, however, I broke it up over a week because my interest began to wane at how the narrative dragged out the storyline. I think it needed more tension, or a story arc or two to add some complexity and drive the plot forward more forcefully.

Picoult and Van Leer’s writing style is pretty breezy, there was a distinct difference between the original fairy tale, Oliver and Deliliah which was impressive, though Deliliahh’s voice felt bland in comparison to the other two writing styles – I wonder if both authors had input on all perspectives, or only wrote a character each?

I don’t really feel like I’d recommend this to my friends. Though it’s fun, and a great concept, the dragging pace and a tone more fitting for a tween market left me with a so-so attitude towards this title. However I will read the sequel ‘Off The Page’ just to quench my curiosity about where these characters could go next. I just hope the writing is a bit tighter to keep my interest.

Overall reaction: *yawn* ooh, cool!

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The airport suddenly looks so much more appealing…

 The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 236

From Goodreads:

Four minutes changes everything. Hadley Sullivan 17 misses her flight at JFK airport, is late to her father’s second wedding in London with never-met stepmother. Hadley meets the perfect boy. Oliver is British, sits in her row. A long night on the plane passes in a blink, but the two lose track in arrival chaos. Can fate bring them together again? 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

A simple fun read, ‘The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’ was a great afternoon escape.

Not only does our protagonist, Hadley step into the waters of first love, she also takes a first pace into independence and rebellion… finding out who she is.

Although short and not all that complex, ‘The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’ poses many questions. It has the feeling of a true contemporary that leaves you pondering over the characters and their issues long after closing the book.

Hadley comes across as immature and broken, but starts testing every assumption about life and love in this novel set over 48 hours. It feels like an adventure – of places and of the heart. At times Hadley annoyed me, her blatant disregard to view things objectively, content to march on blinkered. Leaving things unsaid. Letting the pain and contempt fester inside. She had her moments of being that stroppy child you just want to throttle. But it’s a necessary evil we all go through in growing up.

The love interest, Oliver surprised me. As his story was revealed, and at his behaviour. I liked him a lot. He is polite and chivalrous and the epitome of English gentry (or good breeding – my Mother would call it being brought up with manners). With so many contemporary love interests being bookish, gangly and geeky, Mr Perfect, or Mr Hot – it was great to come across one whose main trait was that of manners and humility. He was also funny.

I related to Hadley and her story – I too am a child of divorce and estranged to my father. This book was like a romantic what if… I’d like a happy ending too.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’ is poetic. In its beautiful effortless narrative, and in its outlook. As much as Hadley hates on so many things, they still come across as splendid notions towards love. This books oozes the soul of romance in all its incarnations. I really enjoyed the escapism and the positive message it presents.

Overall feeling: A thumbs up from me

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle © Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.