Tell Me How to Be, Neel Patel

I won this in a Goodreads giveaway, and the book showed up about a week later, making it the fastest turnaround time for an ARC ever. So, of course, I wanted to start it immediately. The story is told in alternating perspectives and timelines, one of my favorite writing styles. My heart broke for Akash, for the secret he kept buried, for the shame he’s experienced his entire life, and for the alcohol he ran to, to silence the voices. My heart hardened with the things Renu thought and said, and sometimes Bijal’s words angered me. Because of that, I admire the author’s writing to make me feel such emotion.

The story is referenced as being “funny” on the back cover, but I didn’t really get that vibe. Any amusing moments were washed out by how awful things were for Akash. This is an intimate look inside this family that is so fractured with hurts and secrets that they cannot be the family their father had always wanted them to be. At times heartbreaking, Tell Me How to Be is a captivating and touching read.

Normally here, I would tell you to read this review on Amazon, but they are declaring there has been suspicious reviewing activity on the book. (There are literally 2 reviews 🙄.) But you can read this review on Goodreads and Bookbub.

You can purchase Tell Me How to Be on Amazon, Bookshop, and B&N.

About the Book:
Renu Amin always seemed perfect: doting husband, beautiful house, healthy sons. But as the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaches, Renu is binge-watching soap operas and simmering with old resentments. She can’t stop wondering if, thirty-five years ago, she chose the wrong life. In Los Angeles, her son, Akash, has everything he ever wanted, but as he tries to kickstart his songwriting career and commit to his boyfriend, he is haunted by the painful memories he fled a decade ago. When his mother tells him she is selling the family home, Akash returns to Illinois, hoping to finally say goodbye and move on.

Together, Renu and Akash pack up the house, retreating further into the secrets that stand between them. Renu sends an innocent Facebook message to the man she almost married, sparking an emotional affair that calls into question everything she thought she knew about herself. Akash slips back into bad habits as he confronts his darkest secrets—including what really happened between him and the first boy who broke his heart. When their pasts catch up to them, Renu and Akash must decide between the lives they left behind and the ones they’ve since created, between making each other happy and setting themselves free.

By turns irreverent and tender, filled with the beats of ’90s R&B, Tell Me How to Be is about our earliest betrayals and the cost of reconciliation. But most of all, it is the love story of a mother and son each trying to figure out how to be in the world.

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