About Here Lies Daniel Tate
When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California’s most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.
Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he’s no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he’s initially too traumatized to speak, but he’s alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he’ll recover his memories; all that matters now is they’re together again.
It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.
He isn’t Daniel Tate.
He’s a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he’s not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried.
The premise of this book pretty much hooked me before I even had a chance to read a word. I’d read another book a little bit like this, but not from the point-of-view of the kidnapping victim, so I was really interested to see a story told from inside that person’s mind, as Daniel’s is.
Daniel warns us right off the bat that he’s a liar, and yet I kept getting sucked into believing everything he said. I felt like the tug-of-war balance between those two ideas made this one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. I love unreliable narrators, but I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything where the narrator leads so point-blank with the fact that he’s a liar.
I liked the way the story messed with his emotions, too. In the beginning, he only wants to survive, but as he gets to know the family, he finds himself invested in relationships with them and even contemplating staying long-term and living as Daniel.
The end was strange. I won’t give it away, and I feel like considering the premise, I shouldn’t have been as surprised by it. I don’t know. I liked that it left a lot of questions unanswered—Daniel’s character seemed incapable of anything else—but it also confused me. Did the family ever get any kind of justice? It seemed like the party most responsible kind of got off without consequence.
On the whole, I’m really glad I read the book. I loved Terrill’s debut, All Our Yesterdays, and was really excited about another suspenseful story from her. I got a lot of what I hoped for, even if the ending wasn’t as satisfying as I wished for.
Daniel and his family are a white, upper class group. He meets and is attracted to an Asian girl at school named Ren. Daniel’s brother Nicholas is gay.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used frequently. I think because of the emotional intensity of some of the scenes, the swearing feels a little more prevalent than it actually is.
A couple instances of kissing between a boy and girl. In one scene it’s unclear how far the romance progresses—it begins with kissing and jumps to later, when the couple is curled in bed watching a movie (apparently still clothed).
A couple scenes show Nicholas and his boyfriend briefly kiss on the mouth.
A reference to an incest relationship.
The closest instance is the fact that the protagonist, who poses as Daniel, sometimes feels guilty thinking about how the actual Daniel, who is likely dead, might feel about the imposter taking over his life.
Daniel learns that one member of his family has a violent past. He ends up in a violent altercation with one family member. Someone is shot, perhaps fatally.
Jessica Tate is an alcoholic who sometimes drives drunk. Lex drinks wine and has a history of addiction to pills. Ren tells Daniel about her cousin’s pot-smoking habit. He also hears rumors that Patrick used to sell pot at school.