A darkly funny and stereotype-upending novel about an Indian-American family confronting the secrets that lie between them.
'A love letter to R&B, youth, and the unforgettable agonies of one's first love...I will read everything Patel writes from here on.' Susie Yang, New York Times bestselling author of White Ivy
Lost in the jungle of Los Angeles, Akash Amin is filled with shame. Shame for liking men. Shame for wanting to be a songwriter. Shame for not being like his perfect brother. Shame for his alcoholism. And most of all, shame for what happened with the first boy he ever loved. When his mother tells him she is selling the family home, Akash must return to Illinois to confront his demons and the painful memory of a sexual awakening that became a nightmare.
Akash's mum, Renu, is also plagued by guilt. She had it all: doting husband, beautiful house, healthy sons. But as the one-year anniversary of her husband's death approaches Renu can't stop wondering if she chose the wrong life thirty-five years ago and should have stayed in London with her first love.
Together, Renu and Akash pack up the house, retreating further into the secrets that stand between them. 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.
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.
Refreshing...Defiant...Consistently surprising - The New York Times Book Review
Neel Patel writes with the wisdom and compassion of an old soul - Celeste Ng, bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
Surprising, funny...Brave - NPR
Patel turns his lens on Indian-Americans, addressing with depth and care subjects that are often overlooked or made into caricature: helicopter parents, conflicts between spouses, sibling rivalry, racism, sexual orientation, and identity - Vanity Fair
Perfect - Guardian
At turns heartbreaking and uplifting...Neel Patel upends stereotypes, especially Indian-American masculinity. He's at his most remarkable when illuminating the experience of queer men making sense of their sexuality, and allowing themselves to hope for a happy ending with the men they love - Buzzfeed
Patel's deep sense of empathy - and infuriatingly relatable characters - shines throughout. A melancholic pleasure with a sense of humour - Kirkus
A wonderful read: necessary, aching, and alive - Library Journal