Book Review: Await Your Reply By Dan Chaon

  • 2021 Reading Challenge #1
  • Fiction
  • Recommended by Cleveland Scene – 40 Books Every Clevelander Should Read
  • Start Date – January 4th
  • End Date – January 9th

When I started my reading challenge last year, I had also planned to write reviews of each book I read. Unfortunately, I didn’t write a single review. It’s a new year, however, with a new reading challenge, and I have completed my first read of 2021. Below is my first review of 2021.

One way to get your readers’ attention is to start your story with a traumatic event, something which gets their attention and their interest from the start and introduce at least one of the main characters. Dan Chaon takes that ball and runs with it with Await Your Reply, as we meet Ryan, his father Jay…and Ryan’s severed hand in a bucket of ice, all racing to the hospital. Chaon definitely gets our attention.

As we continue to read, we also meet Lucy, a high school senior from Pomeroy, Ohio, and her high school teacher, George Olson, who she has run away with, as well as Miles, who lived in Cleveland until he goes on a search for his twin brother, Hayden, who we learn has exhibited unstable behavior in the past.

What do these characters have in common? For one, they are trying to discover who they are. Ryan only recently discovered his father and leaves college to join Jay’s con games. Lucy yearns to escape Pomeroy and jumps at the chance with George. Miles returns home to Cleveland hoping to settle down and end his search, but he cannot let it go, especially after he gets a letter from Hayden pointing to Canada.

There are also those who are not who they appear to be, specifically Jay, George, and Hayden. We learn this repeatedly about Hayden, as we learn about his and Miles’ childhoods and what Miles discovers about Hayden during his search. Jay and George are both more mysterious and our discovery of who they are takes longer as a result, which keeps us interested and intrigued throughout the book.

Overall, I found Await Your Reply to be one of those books which are hard to put down, especially once you’ve finished meeting the characters. In fact, I read about 2/3 of the book in a single day, so it is definitely a page turner. There was a particular plot twist that I enjoyed and didn’t catch on to until it was right on top of me. I definitely recommend Await Your Reply, regardless of whether you’re from Cleveland or not.

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