Review | Friday 27 January 2012
Me and You is a gem of a novel. Lorenzo is 14 years old and has no friends, which he knows concerns his parents. He devises the means to fit into social situations, but knows he is not part of the adolescent scene. This is not a concern to him: he likes being by himself. To pacify his parents, he tells them he has been invited away with friends for a week, but instead spends the week in the cellar of his parents’ apartment block. Happy there with his novels, comics and Playstation, his calm is disrupted by his estranged stepsister, who uses the cellar and himself as a base, as she overcomes heroin withdrawal. Desperately enclosed in their chosen environment, both young people learn more about their father and their own relationship with him.
Ammaniti writes with deliberate sparseness and is able to capture the angst of being different, being tired of societal constructions and the nature of family without fanfare. Me and You is a pared down coming-of-age story. Italian writer Ammaniti has the ability to draw you in from the first page and not let you go until completion.
This novel’s story is bittersweet, subtle and wonderfully entertaining. Ammaniti has been described as one of the best novelists of our time and has won many awards.
His previous novel, I’m Not Scared, has been translated into 35 different languages. Thank you to Text Publishing for bringing his words to Australia. I’ll be seeking out his other works immediately.
Christine Gordon is the Events Coordinator for Readings and is a committee member of The Stella Prize.