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.
- The New York Times Book Review
"Neel Patel writes with the wisdom and compassion of an old soul." - Celeste Ng