• Tell Me How to Be

  • A Novel
  • By: Neel Patel
  • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
  • Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (95 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“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

©2021 Neel Patel (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

“I loved Tell Me How to Be’s story of family, first love, and figuring out your place in the world. Neel's writing is vulnerable, authentic and entertaining. This book gives a fresh perspective to complicated family relationships…something everyone can relate to." (Lilly Singh, number one New York Times best-selling author of How to Be a Bawse)

What listeners say about Tell Me How to Be

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Superb read!

I was crying with sadness and joy while reading this book. As an Indian mom, there were many times when I understood the pain and the expectations one has for their children. As a Indian child, I understood the pain and expectations as a child. Beautiful read. A must read for children and parents.

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started slow, but got a lot better

I think I started this book a while back and couldn't get into it, but this time, I made it to the good stuff. The first few chapters were slow. As the plot and characters developed, I was drawn into a wonderful story.

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Loved this! Great on Audible!!

Beautifully written, heartfelt, compelling novel.
Fantastic voice work by the narrators doing multiple accents and characters.
I also recommend “If You See Me Don’t Say Hi” by the same author.

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“Sometimes the things you desire are not what you need”

This book is the best read/listen I have experienced in a long time. Written with such intimacy like you have found a strangers journal. Filled with laughter and tears, the characters each go through a catharsis by honoring a part of themselves but letting go to be in the present, to see the life they had, their families are what they needed all along to be free.

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Good Read!

I loved reading this because it wasn't artificially happy. It really makes you think about the different kinds of love there are.

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I’m so thankful for this book

I found myself in a full sob by the end of this book. The narrator effortlessly slipped between the characters and brought them all to life. The author touched a part of me that needed to be healed.
I’m thankful that I’ve encountered this book.

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Excellent story & narration

The story and structure of this book were superb - a deep dive into human emotion, behavior, the complex dynamics of family and culture. in addition, the narration was top rate - I truly thought there was more than one person performing.

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Riveting & Heart wrenching!

A tale so beautifully & intricately told. The humanness of the characters are familiar and humbling. I loved every minute of it! Book of the year for me!

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