Await your Reply

A Novel

Chaon, Dan

Book - 2009
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Await your Reply
The lives of three strangers interconnect in unforeseen ways - and with unexpected consequences - in acclaimed author 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.

Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, c2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0345476026
Branch Call Number: FICTION CHAON 2009
Characteristics: 324 p. ;,25 cm


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Feb 28, 2015
  • readsalot80 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The three main characters have an unknown connection. Miles is looking for his missing twin brother. Lucy has run away with her teacher with promises of money. Jay has run away to be with his birth father. I didn't like the style of this book. Each chapter was from a different character's point of view. I've read other books in this style that I liked but not this one. The ending has a surprising twist but felt unfinished.

Jan 09, 2015
  • mre5832 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This book is intriguing in how it weaves the lives of 3 individuals in an interesting twist of a story.

Aug 29, 2014
  • Jane60201 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Unusual theme for a book but got tedious after a while.

Apr 24, 2014
  • okbookgirl rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Best novel ever about identity theft. This is an intelligent and well-crafted thriller. Great read.

Jan 29, 2014
  • lucky38 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

started this book, stopped and started another one and decided to give this one another try. Read the reviews and thought I had to read it, the reviews were mostly 5 stars. Well, I would like to say I totally understood this book but that is not the case. I could not tie George and Lucy to the other two. Not sure I will read this author again.

Apr 17, 2013
  • JCLMichelleH rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A nuanced and compelling novel that blends three stories, each revolving around people whose identities change in some way. When Chaon reveals in the final chapter how the characters are connected, you will be amazed, both by what happens there and how it had been disguised throughout the book. A fantastic physiological thriller.

Jan 20, 2013
  • ambergrey100 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

As strange and weird as they come. Not for everyone but if you like strange and weird and a book that makes you search for the clues then you may find this book riveting.

Jan 10, 2013
  • clipshie175 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A little sordid but incredibly readable.

Sep 06, 2012
  • JimLoter rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Other reviewers have successfully focused on the book's theme of the mutability of identity, which Dan Chaon explores through three seemingly (at first) unrelated narratives. The most intriguing aspect of this theme to me is the extent to which identity is influenced, reinforced, or even granted to a person by others - especially those others whom we consider authority figures. In a way the three stories in Await Your Reply are each examining the impact of the loss or radical disruption of these external influences upon the characters' own identities. In that sense, it reveals the dangers of relying to heavily on others for one's sense of self. If you define yourself as a function of someone else, what happens when that someone else is not who you think they are?

Ryan - whom we meet shortly after he literally loses a piece of himself - has just met a man claiming to be his real father and so estranges himself from his newly-discovered-to-be-adoptive parents. Lucy is flailing in the aftermath of her parents' death and runs away with a high school teacher. And Miles is lost and struggling to find his missing twin brother who he's realizing has become insane. It's clear in each case that the missing parties have been responsible for bestowing a considerable degree of stability to each character, and now that the nature of those affirming relationship is transformed, the characters' very identities are in question.

Viewing the central theme in this way helped me understand the book's title. The characters are constantly awaiting the reply of the other - the "real" father, the older lover, the missing twin brother - because they cannot close the loop on their own selves until that feedback is received.

In terms of quality, the book is consistently engrossing despite the disjointed nature of the narrative structure. The Miles/Hayden tale was the most enjoyable to me and played around the most with the timeline. In many ways, it was the anchor story of the three with a deep exploration of an identity that is inextricably linked with another half (the twin-as-doppelgänger).

The Lucy/George tale was the most colorful given the unusual settings and the interesting character of teenager-cum-adult Lucy who struggles with the childish appeal of her life as an outlaw with a growing adult sense of how wrong everything seems. To underscore this coming-of-age aspect, George's scheme even has 19-year-old Lucy transform into a 15-year-old (through hair dye and a ridiculous T-shirt) and then morph into a 25-year-old.

I felt that the Ryan/Jay story suffered a bit from not really have a lot for the characters to do. It was by far the most introspective thread and sort of dragged things down a bit as if unfolded. However, it was successful in presenting a very detailed account of the technical aspects of identity and the role that credentials, documentation, and information plays in establishing a self.

Jul 04, 2012
  • smoothjade rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Perfect summer read. Don Chaon's book Await Your Reply is a intricately woven story of three unlikely stories which ride in unity through danger, fear, sentimentality and the questioning of what it means to be real. Await Your Reply is a page turner, Chaon builds the suspense to a surprise ending, one that makes reading the book something that requires a little reflection to be able to appreciate the skill and talent of the author's writing.

Read it!

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