I want to learn all I can, live as wisely as I can, and savor every moment on the journey.
Me and You by Niccolò Ammaniti
(translated by Kylee Doust)
I enjoyed this novella, which I selected for its shortness. It’s an original, well-written, and artfully crafted story that packs a lot of feeling and meaning into a tight, highly readable form. The story propelled me forward so well that I read it in one sitting without intending to. I could easily see the world from the main character’s perspective—and it was an interesting perspective.
I could relate well to the main situation of the story, at least at the beginning—a teenage misfit hides in a forgotten cellar for a week as a vacation from his trying world. I love that idea, really. I need a cellar vacation sometimes!
But as the story develops, the boy’s reasons for hiding turn out to be different from that initial purpose…
It turns out that he’s actually covering up a lie he told his mother—that he’d been invited on a ski vacation by some of his classmates. He doesn’t really know why he blurted out this lie, but once he told it, he couldn’t bear to dash his mother’s excitement about his finally having friends, so he keeps up the lie. But during his cellar week, he comes to realize that he lied because he really had wanted to be invited. This realization, combined with the much-needed peer socializing he gets when his drug-addicted half-sister unexpectedly crashes his cellar hideout week, forms what he views as a turning point in his life, from being defined by antisocial/narcissitic disorder to living a functional life in society.
Personally, I wish the book had ended with this immediate story; the flash-forward to Olivia’s death in the epilogue seems to me to make the book unnecessarily dark. I think the main story could have stood alone and still have been a well-written and thought-provoking story–perhaps even more so, in my opinion.