David is yet another American trying to find an escape from life in Paris in the 1950s. His girlfriend, Hella, is spending time alone in Spain trying to make up her mind regarding his proposal. Lonely and broke, David meets with an acquaintance at a bar in hopes of getting a financial boost. There, he is immediately attracted to young bartender Giovanni. The two start sleeping and living together, but David struggles with his image of masculinity and sexuality. His self-hatred causes him to push Giovanni away when Hella returns, leading to a tragic end.
The novel tackles themes of gender roles, sexual identity as well as national identity… All through the lens of a man consumed by his feelings for another man, yet unwilling to accept them. Due to descriptions of sexual nature, the book is suited for older students. It can also be read in excerpts depending on the topic of analysis.
Baldwin, James. Giovanni's Room. Penguin Classics, 2007. 160 pp., ISBN 9780141032948