David is an American living in 1950's Paris, trying to flee from bad memories of home with his father. He has a finacÃ©e Hella, who has just left for Spain to make sure that she is ready to wed David. While she's away, David allows his urges to take him to one a gay bar, where he meets Giovanni, a young, Italian bartender. They strike up a friendship, and for financial reasons, David moves into Giovanni's tiny room.
Throughout the novel, David is conflicted with his feelings of love, loathing and guilt for Giovanni and for his own homosexuality. He loves Hella, too, but desparately wants to find out if her love is what he truly desires, almost willing her to save him. Author James Baldwin uses a very flowing style to permeate his novel with these emotions, allowing the reader to both sympathize and distrust Giovanni and David. One is strong and sure of himself; the other is fighting a battle in his head over what he feels. This creates one of the better novels dealing with someone coming to terms with his or her own sexuality.