Book Review: Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon


First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.
–Epictetus

Await Your Reply, written by Dan Chaon, spans several countries and weaves together three separate stories to create one taut, fast paced psychological page-turner.

Through one of the main characters, Chaon asks: “What kind of person decides that they can throw everything away and – reinvent themselves?  As if you could just discard the parts of your life that you didn’t want anymore.”

These kinds of people.

Ryan fakes his own death and drops out of college to live in seclusion with his estranged father.  Lucy falls in love and runs away with her history teacher only to find out that he’s not the person that he says he is.  And Miles hunts down his ever-disappearing, identity changing twin brother for some closure once and for all.

It sounds like a lot, right?  It is.  But Chaon’s crisp, yet, subtle writing takes you on the journey with ease, making it all easy to digest, all the while raising the bar higher and higher with each chapter.

The title, Await Your Reply, is borrowed from the emails we’ve all gotten from those mysterious rich folks from oversees who asks us to harbor millions of dollars in our US bank accounts.  Who are these people?  Of course they’re not who they say they are.  But what’s their story?  Who are the real people sitting behind the computer?  Reply takes you on the other side of their world.  The hackers who ruin lives and steal identities with the click of a mouse; the motivation behind why folks do away with the identity bestowed upon them.

In an age when we’re all fingers on a keyboard behind computers posting status updates to social media outlets with avatars that represent what we may (or may not) look like, who are we really? Nowadays, it’s incredibly easy to reinvent yourself; to choose an identity and be whom or whatever your want.  The novel is a study on individualism turned on its head: be anyone you want to be by being someone other than yourself.

Lucy, the orphaned high school student who falls in love with the identity her history teacher tailor-made for himself asks herself (and us): “Who would you be if you weren’t Lucy?  What life will you choose for yourselves?”

Chaon forces us to ponder questions like these and many more in this arresting novel that will leave you hiding your social security card, side-eyeing internet shopping, second guessing the true identity of the people you interact with – and wondering who you would become if you had the courage or desire to expunge your very own identity and start all over again.

– Shydel James

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2 responses to “Book Review: Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

  1. Very timely subject matter. This seems a little bit spooky to me, mainly because it could happen in real life.

  2. Love the review. On first glance, I probably wouldn’t pick this up, but your review has me adding this to my visual bookshelf!

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