* INAUGURAL LILLY'S LIBRARY BOOK CLUB PICK FROM LILLY SINGH *
“A beautiful book about a mother and son…I really loved this book.”—Rumaan Alam on The TODAY Show
“My first great read of 2022…[Will] make you cringe with recognition and melt with longing.” —Jennifer Weiner
“This debut novel about an Indian-American family has all the right ingredients: family secrets, love, sexuality, loss, identity questions and remorse.” —Good Morning America
Renu Amin always seemed perfect. But as the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaches, she 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 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.
In Patel's resplendent debut, a mother and son reveal their secrets and regrets. Twenty-eight-year-old struggling songwriter Akash Amin learns early on that the problem with lies is that "they always circle back to the truth." His widowed mother, Renu, meanwhile, believes lies "are like children, the second you conceive them, you must protect them at all costs." Akash leaves his lover, Jacob, in Santa Monica to help clear out his childhood home in Illinois on the first-year anniversary of the death of his physician father before Renu sells the house and departs for London. There, while preparing a puja, Akash finally comes out to Renu, confronts his successful older brother, Bijal, about the real reasons behind an embarrassing drunken incident at Bijal's wedding four years earlier, and deals with the secrets behind a betrayal by an adolescent crush. Renu, meanwhile, wrestles with the fallout from forsaking happiness for the sake of tradition in her arranged marriage, a long-ago forbidden love with a Muslim man, and an insufferably lonely life surrounded by "cornfields, strip malls and Chinese restaurants named after feelings." Patel skillfully maneuvers through the treacherous territory of abandoned dreams, family squabbles, and cultural clashes before finding a resounding catharsis for mother and son. The result is noteworthy and memorable.
Tell Me How to Be
Great read keep you guessing right til the end! Loved it!
So many secrets keeping family apart; so much love drawing them together
Sometimes the things we long for the most are not the things that we need. Find love where you are, and not where you desire to be. This simple and profound message resonate from this powerful love story!