Review: Here Lies Daniel Tate

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A young, street-savvy runaway looking for a place to call home realizes he might have conned his way into the wrong family in this fast-paced and thrilling novel from award-winning author Cristin Terrill.

When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California’s most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.

Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he’s no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he’s initially too traumatized to speak, but he’s alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he’ll recover his memories; all that matters now is they’re together again. 

It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.

He isn’t Daniel Tate.

He’s a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he’s not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried.

I loved Terrill’s debut All our Yesterdays, so I was looking forward to this when I heard about it coming out.

The structure of this is not very standard, there are no definitive chapters, only breaks after scenes. This style worked really well to enforce the stream of consciousness and varying opinions the protagonist expresses and made this hard to put down.

The Tate family has such a strange dynamic and it’s clear that it’s not as perfect as it looks on the outside, but we are only ever privy to rare glimpses of what’s going on underneath. On top of that, the layers of Danny are so confusing, especially when we start to draw parallels between him and the ‘real’ Danny. His imagination is so vivid that when he starts to superimpose the things he’s thinking onto the real world the lines begin to blur as to who he thinks he is and how he fits.

The relationships he fosters with Nicholas and Ren are what begin to unlock everything for the reader. He feels the most real when he’s with these two, and we get the most honesty from him while he’s with them. I began to see him as an individual, he starts to feel that way about himself, and starts craving the possibility of living out a life in the world of the Tates.

As things begin to unravel with the rest of the family it gets even more twisted. The relationship between Patrick and Lex was something I was suspicious of from the start, and the way Jessica interacts with her family was so hot and cold. The way things unraveled wasn’t necessarily surprising, but shocking none the less. I really liked the ending too, things are left kind of open, letting you imagine the story is one of several options, but I like to think that the one told is the real one. It provides a level of closure for all parties, and there is some sense of justice.

Basically, another solid story from Terrill, I cant’ wait to read what she does next.

 

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Review: When Dimple met Rishi

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

This book was so adorable. I needed something swoony and lighthearted and this fit the bill, with some surprisingly poignant cultural commentary.

I really enjoyed watching these two characters, who are both so sure of who they are and what their priorities are, learn they may not have all the answers at eighteen. They bring out such sweet traits in the other, and while doing so learn to find a balance in their own areas that were a bit intense. Rishi becomes more empathetic towards his brother, while Dimple learns to appreciate her parents a bit more. They both learn that they can follow their passion without leaving behind those they care about. And the most interesting aspect for me, they both find a balance between the culture of their parents and that of their home – the U.S.

Beyond the adorable swoon moments, the times when I was literally laughing out loud (I scared the dog), and the teen drama; there were such deep investigations into the life of Indian immigrants. Not only are we seeing the different views of a similar situation with Rishi and Dimple, but we are getting a completely different and detached perspective from the secondary character Hari. I really appreciated the moments where Hinduism was explained and when Rishi talked about how important his family’s history was to him. Not only did I learn more about a corner of Indian culture, I was reminded of my own families immigrant status and how their cultures have influenced my life.

Menon did a fantastic job of  not only creating a thoroughly enjoyable book, but filling it with meaningful content that triggers discussion – such a critical element I think for any book.