You feel as if there is something much darker at play when you begin the punchy novella, Me and You by Niccolò Ammaniti.
The plot is undeniably enticing – Lorenzo is a fourteen-year-old misfit. To quell the anxiety of his concerned, socially conscious parents, he tells them he’s been invited on a ski trip with a popular classmate. Instead, Lorenzo spends the week hiding out in the basement of his family’s apartment building, where he relishes the isolation from his parents and peers.
“…biscuits, snacks and two bars of milk chocolate. A small television sat on a chest, along with my PlayStation, three Stephen King novels and a couple of Marvel comics. I locked the door. This would be my ski week.”
When Lorenzo’s estranged half-sister, Olivia, shows up in the basement unexpectedly, Lorenzo’s week takes an unexpected turn.
Ammaniti’s writing style is well-paced and the character of Lorenzo is perfectly realised. I’m sure that writing from the perspective of a ‘troubled’ teen is not easy yet Lorenzo is a wonderful balance of childish concern over largely irrelevant details and adult determination.
“But the longer I put on this show, the more different I felt. The chasm that separated me from the others grew deeper. On my own I was happy, with the others I always had to pretend. Sometimes this scared me. Would I have to imitate them for the rest of my life?”
There’s much to like about this story however I was left wanting more. Ammaniti hints at flawed characters and complex relationships but these aren’t fully explored.
Note that there are five (!) different cover designs for this short book. I think the one I’ve shown below suits the book best.
3/5 Was Ammaniti was on the verge of a much deeper story? Perhaps – I think this one was just a tad restrained.
Food does not feature heavily – Lorenzo has a stash of soft drink, chocolate, bread, mineral water, biscuits, preserved vegetables and some Nutella to keep him going. As soon as I read Nutella my mind automatically wandered to Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies. As Monique from Ambitious Kitchen says – “Quite frankly, this is a chocolate chip cookie that will change your life.” Correct.