leslie nikole
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Wow. Breathe.

You know that breathing pattern you switch into when you come off of a roller coaster? Well, that's what happens when you finish this book, that is if you get through it of course. It's not a huge book to read, it's only 169 pages, but it still took me four pages to avoid being overwhelmed.

Giovanni's Room is an emotionally charged novel, that is written so well, that it seems like it might not even be fictional, but some one's actual memoir. Narrator David takes us from his first home as a young man in New York City to Paris, where he meets an Italian man named Giovanni who is working as a barman. Originally he is just to be a wingman for a friend, but Giovanni clings more to David and thus the story begins. The book begins the way you think it would end, but that serves more to the entire idea of a memoir of sorts.

By the end of the book, when David confronts his true feelings about Giovanni and his maid's room on the outskirts of the city, you realize how metaphorical the entire book is to begin with. Giovanni's Room goes into detail without being lengthy about the difficulties associated with sexuality, finding yourself, and not being with the "norm". Giovanni's actual room in the novel is stuffy and dark, always trying to be repaired by Giovanni while torn down by spilt wine and dirty food. Over time, once David realizes that the woman he thought to be of his dreams comes back, David feels trapped by the room, and grows colder to Giovanni. He goes through a period of trying to replace Giovanni with different women, only to realize that once Giovanni is gone forever, that he is no longer happy with the woman he's been introducing to everyone as his fiancé.

David has his first intimate experience with another boy back home while still quite young. The next morning, he feels improper and thinks about his nuclear family (including his dead mother), and hypothesizes their reactions would be extremely negative. He refuses to speak to his once best friend again, and bullies him in efforts to push him farther away. With a move to Paris later on, David lives the way he pleases. With a small room overlooked by an couple (mainly by the wife though), David has no guilt an ocean away from his family and laws against homosexuality. On a late night bar crawl with an acquaintance, he attempts to be a wingman for him when they spot Giovanni. Giovanni on the other hand has other plans...he goes for David instead, referring to his acquaintance to a dirty old man. From the looks of him, David doesn't see what Giovanni does. After leaving Italy and bouncing around Paris, Giovanni encounters something that David has never mentioned, being used. David seems to completely over look this until the last fifty pages, to post-climax realization of what Giovanni possibly could have gone through the months before he met him.

I don't know. I'm all over the place with this book. There's a lot of empathy that can be given for all of the characters, along with some disdain at other points, well except for Guillaume. If you like Guillaume you have legit issues. Again, Baldwin has done it again, and I feel like this one as well is just so perfect and so flawed all together, that I just feel like I'm going to write a million essays on this book if I ever get back into college again.

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