Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill (review)
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Reviewed by
Terrill, Cristin Here Lies Daniel Tate. Simon, 2017[400p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-8076-5 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-8078-9 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7–10

“Somehow I had stumbled on the con of a lifetime. A scam with the biggest risks I’d taken on but also the biggest rewards.” So says our narrator, who cannily evaded trouble in Canada by claiming to be Daniel Tate, a sixteen-year-old American teen who’s been missing for six years. “Danny” treads carefully as he is received with joy by his rich Californian family, and he soon realizes that family is a trainwreck, with Mom an aimless alcoholic with a mystery, her first husband dead from suicide, and Danny’s father in prison. In fact, as our protagonist ensconces himself deeper into the family, he begins to wonder if he’s not the only con in the arrangement—and if maybe he’s actually the mark. This is a delightfully taut, intense take on the fake-returned-kid plot, and our duplicitous hero is a highly satisfying focus as he veers between consideration of his own advantage and genuine affection for his troubled new family and for a girl at school, to whom he’d really like to tell the truth. The layers beneath layers are tantalizingly teased before being fully pulled back, and the narrator’s drifts into alternative versions play with reality without ever really obscuring the truth of the book’s events. Readers looking for a next book after Valentine’s Double (BCCB 3/12) will enjoy comparing the two.

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