Tell Me How to Be: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
“Narrator Vikas Adam does an excellent job of balancing the angst- ridden Akash with the mourning Renu in this mother-and-son story of love and loss” – AudioFile Magazine
“Tell Me How to Be is daring, hilarious, poignant, and impossible to put down. Neel Patel is a fabulous storyteller!” —Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
From rising star Neel Patel (“refreshing…defiant…consistently surprising” —New York Times), a darkly funny and heartbreaking debut novel about an Indian-American family confronting the secrets between them.
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.
A Macmillan Audio production from Flatiron Books
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 34 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||December 07 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #10,521 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#199 in World Literature (Audible Books & Originals)
#244 in Cultural Heritage Historical Fiction
#714 in Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from other countries
Told through the lens of Renu the mom and Akash the son you are transported from London to America to Tanzania and India. This is a story of love, family & belonging.
Just be prepared for the sobbing this book does pull at the heart strings but I loved it.
This is a Gujarati-American family drama told from the perspectives of Renu, a woman mourning the recent death of her husband, and Akash, her younger son.
I had high hopes for this book given the amount of pre-release praise it received. It seemed like something in the vein of "A Place for Us", one of my favorite books.
However, I was highly disappointed because the book appears half-finished. There are a LOT of flashbacks about the backstories of the major characters, which takes up more than half of the book. The present-day storyline only covers a few days, and everything wraps up too quickly by the end. A few characters have "breakthrough" moments, but have not seriously addressed their underlying issues.
One of the major plot points regarding Renu's backstory with Kareem that comes into the present day is also not explained thoroughly, and simply ends without much of a resolution.
This book is only ~300 pages, and would have benefited from being double the length. I would have also appreciated perspective chapters from other characters such as Kareem, Ashok, and Bijal.
Overall, it is a quick but unsatisfying read.
Both mother and son have secrets. The mother was railroaded into an arranged marriage 30+ years ago, Her husband, who loved his unhappy wife dearly, has just died, and she has decided to move back to London. She hopes to find her long-lost true love, Kareem. (This is not a spoiler; all this is revealed at the outset of the story.) Akash, by contrast, has a man who loves him, but he can no more remain faithful than he can remain sober. Akash has a particularly nasty habit of getting smashed and acting out at major family events, to the fury of his older brother - who is, on the surface, the model son. Who also has secrets.
Gathered in their rapidly emptying family home, a McMansion on a cul-de-sac, the two brothers and their mother struggle to connect before she leaves this house and the US.
The touchstones of culture play a huge role in the unfolding of the story. Renu, the mother, has played by the rules imposed by her parents and her husband, and has ended up bitter. Akash, after years of struggle, has burned almost every bridge imaginable, with family, friends, lovers, and business partners.
There are plot twists galore in this small but intricate story of a family whose every member seems somehow alienated from themselves and each other.
A terrifically engaging first novel.