Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Me and You; Niccolo Ammaniti

Title: Me and You 
Author:  Niccolo Ammaniti 
Publication Year: 2010 
Publisher: Black Cat 
Edition: Trade 
Setting: Rome, Italy 
Source: my shelves 
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

 Translated from the Italian, Me and You is a compelling story about growing up and not fitting in.

Lorenzo Cumi is a 14 year old boy who is different. The only child of wealthy, snobby parents, he is coddled by his over bearing mother, a woman who has a deep desire for her son to be popular.  Problems in school begin early for Lorenzo, so his parents send him to therapy.  His wacky therapist diagnoses Lorenzo with "narcissistic personality disorder", but really he is just embarrassed to talk to others even though deep down he longs to be like them.  He tries to fit in:

"little by little I worked out how I should act at school, I had to keep to myself, but not too much, otherwise I stuck out.

I was like a sardine in a school of sardines.  I camouflaged  myself like a stick insect  on dry branches.  And I learned to control my anger.  I imagined I had a tank in my stomach, and when it filled up I emptied it out through my feet and the anger ended up in the ground and penetrated into the world's guts and was burned up by the eternal flames.

Now nobody bothered me."

Tired of his mother bugging him about friends, when he'd rather sneak off to play canasta with his grandmother, he makes up a story that he has been invited by the cool kids on a week long, exclusive ski trip, but Lorenzo has other plans.  After his mother drops him off for the ski trip, he sneaks back home and hides out in a dark and dingy room in the basement of his building.  He has preplanned his retreat, and the room has the core essentials he'll need for the week --including a toilet and even a window. He has an old mattress,  food, drinks, Stephen King novels, and other supplies, and although isolated, he looks forward to his time alone and some quiet.  

However, his week does not go off as planned. He receives frequent calls to his cellphone from his mother asking how he is doing.  He also has a surprise visitor to his basement retreat -- his significantly older and rebellious half-sister Olivia, whose been estranged from the family and, who he hasn't seen in years.  Olivia, like her half-brother has issues --  and it is through the time he spends with Olivia that he is forced to deal with own issues as well.

Me and You is more of a novella -- just 153 pages.  The majority of the story takes place in a one week period when Lorenzo was 14 and Olivia was 23, and at the end, the story briefly flashes forward 10 years. Told in the first person by Lorenzo, it's an emotional story that seemed very realistic to me -- a boy who longs to belong, yet someone who is most comfortable alone.

It took me just two hours to read this book and, I really liked it a lot, it has many of the elements I enjoy in a plot. The translation was well done.  I only wished the story would have been longer as I really wanted to know more about Lorenzo between the ages of 14-24.

READ IT!

9 comments:

  1. Diane, I'm so excited when I saw this. I think it's adapted into a movie and I just saw the thriller some months ago. I'm so going to read this one!

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  2. I can't imagine a parent pushing a kid to be popular, but I'm sure it happens. This sounds really good.

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  3. There goes my list getting longer again! It does sound good!

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  4. Oh my gosh! When I read your review, it sounded exactly like two books that I had read before mashed together! The first plot point about the boy and his overbearing mother was from one book, and the sneaking out and hiding in the basement was another. How weird is that? Very nice review today. I wonder what I would think of the book!

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  5. This sounds like a great book, Diane. I'm really curious about Lorenzo and already feel for him even though I only know him through your review. Adding this one to my wish list.

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  6. Oh...now this one sounds interesting! I especially like how the author was able to really deliver a great read in so few pages!!!

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  7. It sounds like a good read when I'm in the right mood.

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  8. I like the premise of the book.

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  9. I love the sound of this one. I'm a sucker for a coming of age story and this one sounds like it includes a few twists and turns along the way.

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