Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti, translated by Kylee Doust



The book's description from the publisher's website:

From internationally best-selling author Niccolò Ammaniti, comes a funny, tragic, gut-punch of a novel, charting how an unlikely alliance between two outsiders blows open one family’s secrets. Lorenzo Cumi is a fourteen-year-old misfit. To quell the anxiety of his concerned, socially conscious parents, he tells them he’s been invited on an exclusive ski vacation with the popular kids. On the morning of the trip, Lorenzo demands that his mother drop him off before they arrive at the train station, insisting that his status will be compromised if he shows up accompanied by his mother. Reluctantly, she agrees, and as soon as she is safely out of the vicinity, he turns around and makes his way back to his neighborhood, to put his real plan in motion: for one blessed week, Lorenzo will retreat to a forgotten cellar in his family’s apartment building, where he will live in perfect isolation, keeping the adult world at bay. But when his estranged half-sister, Olivia, shows up in the cellar unexpectedly, his idyll is shattered, and the two become locked in a battle of wills—forced to confront the very demons they are each struggling to escape.

I seem to be on some kind of a European fiction binge right now and I'm quite enjoying it. Just as I did enjoy Me and You. I have to say I'm perplexed as to why it's getting a low rating in Goodreads. Maybe it's just the kind of fiction that doesn't appeal to everyone but when it does get your attention, it possesses it fully.

The main character, Lorenzo, is an introvert through and through and, being one myself, I identified with many feelings and thoughts of his, and most importantly didn't find it all that strange that he had closed himself off for those couple of days, just to be left alone for once. His motives were so very clear to me that I had no problems accepting the whole premise of this novel as perfectly natural. And the appearance of his half-sister, Olivia, only added more sense to the story and made it all the more believable.

Yes, Me and You is a sorrowful and a slightly dark story but because it doesn't have a 'Happily ever after' ending, it's that much closer to real life. And at least in my real life, things don't always have a happy ending, there are sadness and grief and unfulfilled promises to deal with. And it's okay, c'est la vie. And that 'la vie' as portrayed by Niccolo Ammaniti, is not a Disney World one and a lot more precious despite its fallibility.

It is a short novel but it did manage to give me fully developed characters that I couldn't help but be empathetic with. I can easily say that if it were longer (not that it needed to), I would love this pair of imperfect siblings and wouldn't want to part with them. But Me and You is the right length and as such it reminded me of the lessons life teaches us even if we are momentarily blind to them.

FTC: I received an e-galley from the publisher, Grove/ Atlantic, Inc. via NetGalley.