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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Me and You

by
Niccolò Ammaniti


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Me and You



Title: Me and You
Author: Niccolò Ammaniti
Genre: Novel
Written: 2010 (Eng. 2012)
Length: 155 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: Me and You - US
Me and You - UK
Me and You - Canada
Me and You - India
Moi et toi - France
Du und Ich - Deutschland
Io e te - Italia
Tú y yo - España
  • Italian title: Io e te
  • Translated by Kylee Doust
  • Me and You was made into a film in 2012, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

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Our Assessment:

B- : thin coming-of-age novella

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Financial Times . 10/2/2012 David Evans
The Independent A 14/2/2012 Emilia Ippolito
Independent on Sunday A 12/2/2012 Leyla Sanai
Scotland on Sunday A 10/1/2012 David Robinson


  From the Reviews:
  • "In Me and You, Ammaniti eschews the violence and black humour of his recent books and recovers the subtlety and restraint he brought to his best-known novel, I’m Not Scared (.....) Lorenzo’s artless and somewhat eccentric voice, inflected by his enthusiasm for B-movies and comic books, is captured beautifully" - David Evans, Financial Times

  • "Translated by Kylee Doust, this is an original, thought-provoking and well-written piece of fiction (.....) Ammaniti takes us on a remarkable voyage through the fear of future responsibility which awaits young people on the brink of adulthood and laces it with all the irony, self-criticism and self-indulgence familiar to that age-group." - Emilia Ippolito, The Independent

  • "Ammaniti's prose is a delight. Spare and undecorated, it nevertheless manages to entertain with vivid phrases and imagery (.....) A dynamite novella, it leaves the reader craving more." - Leyla Sanai, Independent on Sunday

  • "What is remarkable about Ammaniti’s novella isn’t just the relationship between the two of them, even though that is the core of the story and doubtless will be of the film too. For me, though, his real skill lies in the vitality he gives even to characters who have little to do with the unfolding relationship between two damaged people in a basement." - David Robinson, Scotland on Sunday

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Me and You is narrated by Lorenzo Cuni, and is bookended by two very short scenes from 2010 (plus a brief little note tagged on at the very end). Lorenzo is in his mid-twenties now, but the bulk of the narrative has him look back on his younger self, to a winter in Rome, ten years earlier. In the opening, present-day scene Lorenzo unfolds a piece of paper that his sister (in fact, only half-sister) Olivia wrote, when he was fourteen and she was twenty-three; the story he then relates, from a decade earlier, more or less amounts to how it came about that she gave him this note, and what it means to him. (Since he still carries it with him, a decade later, it is obviously meaningful.)
       As a fourteen-year-old Lorenzo is one of those kids who just doesn't know how to fit in. He tries a variety of approaches, but generally remains a frustrated outsider. His parents send him to a therapist for a while, but they're happy with the diagnosis of: "narcissistic personality disorder" (they're glad that he doesn't appear to be suffering from low self-esteem and instead has an: "inflated sense of self-importance") and they all convince themselves: "Lorenzo is a normal child".
       Things get worse when he starts high school; he lies to his parents about what happens at school, painting a very different picture, while he is, in fact, now almost entirely an outsider. When some of his classmates plan a ski trip to Cortina he pretends to his parents that he has been invited to go along -- but instead decides to spend the week hiding in the family cellar, away from everyone and everything, convincing himself he's happy with this isolation.
       His plan to spend a peaceful week entirely by himself don't quite work out, as the half-sister he barely knows, Olivia, shows up out of the blue beating a similar retreat. She has her own issues to deal with: she's a junkie who, after sinking as low as she can go, is determined to finally get clean. (Innocent little Lorenzo initially has no idea what he's dealing with, wondering as she keeps throwing up: "What sort of illness did she have? What if it were contagious?")
       Yes, this is the most predictable of coming-of-age stories: a young boy and a young woman are thrown together, each struggling with their own demons, and draw strength from each other. Will Olivia's predicament, and their being stuck together in this cellar, fugitives from real life, push Lorenzo to become more of a man ? Will Lorenzo emerge from the cellar at the end of his fake ski-week with a new resolve, and a new strut to his step ? Ammaniti's entirely predictable story leaves little doubt where this is heading.
       Still, one has to hand it to the author: he does pack a few punches -- notably in the overarching story. Sure, it would be more effective if disposable Olivia, a presence (and a half-sister) of convenience and nothing more, were better integrated into the story (and family); as is, a phantom conjured up by Lorenzo in his mind would have been as substantial (but that, of course, would have deprived Ammaniti of his cheap but moving parting shot). A transparently manipulative novella, Me and You has some nice scenes and exchanges, but so lacks any depth that it seems written for children Lorenzo's age; it is certainly not an adult novel.
       The story lends itself to filming, and one can imagine a decent flick based on it. As a written work, however, it is simply too thin and simple; if an author is going to take this most conventional of plots of finding oneself he really has to make more of it in some way (the writing, the characters, the action .... something), and Ammaniti doesn't.

- M.A.Orthofer, 10 December 2012

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Links:

Me and You: Reviews: Me and You - the movie: Other books by Niccolò Ammaniti under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Popular Italian author Niccolò Ammaniti was born in 1966.

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© 2012-2013 the complete review

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