The varied lives of three strangers interconnect in unforeseen ways and with unexpected consequences in Dan Chaon's gripping, brilliantly written new novel.
Longing to get on with his life, Miles Cheshire nevertheless can't stop searching for his troubled twin brother, Hayden, who has been missing for ten years. Hayden has covered his tracks skillfully, moving stealthily from place to place, managing along the way to hold down various jobs and seem, to the people he meets, entirely normal. But some version of the truth is always concealed.
A few days after graduating from high school, Lucy Lattimore sneaks away from the small town of Pompey, Ohio, with her charismatic former history teacher. They arrive in Nebraska, in the middle of nowhere, at a long-deserted motel next to a dried-up reservoir, to figure out the next move on their path to a new life. But soon Lucy begins to feel quietly uneasy.
My whole life is a lie, thinks Ryan Schuyler, who has recently learned some shocking news. In response, he walks off the Northwestern University campus, hops on a bus, and breaks loose from his existence, which suddenly seems abstract and tenuous. Presumed dead, Ryan decides to remake himself through unconventional and precarious means.
Await Your Reply is a literary masterwork with the momentum of a thriller, an unforgettable novel in which pasts are invented and reinvented and the future is both seductively uncharted and perilously unmoored.
"Starred Review. This novel's structure echoes that of his well-received debutalso a book of threeseven as it bests that book's elegant prose, haunting plot and knockout literary excellence." - Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week
"For fans of pulse-pounding drama, Chaon never fails to impress." - Library Journal
"[I]n some ways, Chaon is to the Midwest what Richard Russo is to the Northeastbut the structure has an innovative audacity missing from his earlier, more straightforward work." - Kirkus Reviews
"I've been waiting for somebody to write the essential identity-theft novel, and I'm very glad Dan Chaon's the one to have done it, because he believes in real story and is faithful to the reader." - Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections
"This is a stunning and beautiful book. I must have read its final pages half a dozen times, just letting what lay packed and coiled within them settle into me. Out of pure loss, Chaon has created real magnificence. Await Your Reply attains a kind of blurry, bloodstained perfection." - Peter Straub, author of A Dark Matter
"I haven't had as much sheer fun reading a novel in years. Chaon's characters are always so beautifully drawn that they hold your attention even when they're just sitting and thinking. In this breathtaking book, they do that and a whole lot more." - Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier
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Rated of 5
Zendralee (Fremont, OH)
The identities and relationships of the 3 main characters intertwine in a maze of alternating chapters. The reader is engaged and rides along with the story like a spam email spreads insidiously on the internet. Despite the unsympathetic nature of many of the characters, you are drawn along by the author's prose to care about them and wonder at their ultimate journey's end.
Rated of 5
Samantha H. (Golden, CO)
Await Your Reply
"Await Your Reply" takes three seemingly disparate characters whose stories become increasing intertwined as the book develops. The author uses alternating chapters to narrate each character's story. The transitions between chapters were often abrupt, especially as one "story" jumps back and forth in time, while the others do not. That said, as I got more involved in the book, the transitions didn't bother me as much.
I enjoyed this book -- the characters have good depth, and their stories were interesting enough to keep me reading to the end -- but it isn't the best thing I've picked up this year.
Rated of 5
Stanley W. (Columbus, OH)
Await Your Reply
I was instantly drawn into this trio of stories that deals with connections and questions. Although I did find some of the characters more compelling than others, the brilliant weaving of the three separate tales add up to one good read. The book is mysterious, melancholy, and the conclusion is both surprising and satisfying. I highly recommend this book.
Rated of 5
Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)
I would love to give this book to a psychiatrist and see what she could make of these sad characters. I love pathetic people as much as the next person, but this book seemed to contain devices designed to shock or confuse. Yes, I had to read it all just to find out what happened to the characters, but I cared most about the almost normal ones. Is that a character flaw in me?
Rated of 5
Elinor M. (Roswell, NM)
A Man In Search for?
This is the first work of Chaon's I've read and as I sit with the last page now turned, I am stunned. It is interesting how his introduction of the characters, each with their own circumstance in life, was accomplished - in short provocative "pull-you-in" chapters. On the other hand, as each story progressed throughout the book, I found the traveling back and forth between these stories somewhat disconcerting for, quite naturally, I favored one set of characters over another.
However, I did find myself drawn into the detective mode of my spirit, contemplating just how it would all connect, for I felt it must. In the end, I found our protagonist to be so very sad, and while ingenious and perhaps brilliant, he seemed quite evil and certainly lost and lonely, ever searching for what? Peace in his life perhaps? Who would ever know?
I say again, I am stunned at how it all came together. It would be intriguing (and maybe just a little scary) to crawl into the mind of this author. I must look into his other writings. In closing, there is no doubt in my mind that this book will definitely spark many a discussion.
Rated of 5
Juli S. (Portland, OR)
Can you be certain of someone's identity?
The book is a mix of three stories that at the beginning seem totally unconnected, but as you read, the connections start clicking and pretty soon you cant put it down because you just have to find out how this all ends. The question of identity is at the heart of this book. False identities and hidden truths abound. Pretty soon the characters and the reader are both questioning the true identity of everyone.
I liked this book a lot. I kept making guesses as to how it would all resolve and changing my mind. If you need a book with clear linear timelines or all the ends tightly wrapped up in a bow, stay away from this one. If you like a story of intrigue, deception and a bit of mystery and suspense, I recommend it highly. Although I felt like I didnt truly like the main characters, the ever more involved web of story and timelines kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.
Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Fitting Ends and Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award, which was also listed as one of the ten best books of the year by the American Library Association, Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and Entertainment Weekly, as well as being cited as a New York Times Notable Book. Chaon's fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and won both Pushcart and O. Henry awards. Chaon teaches at Oberlin College and lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with his wife and two sons.
Dan Chaon: Dan 'Shawn'
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