YA reading frenzy! Here Lies Daniel Tate is the sophomore novel of Cristin Terrill, whose debut, All Our Yesterdays, was such a fun and fascinating time travel story. Daniel Tate is the story of a con artist who takes over the life of a boy who's been missing for four years.
The narrator doesn't give us any name besides Danny, so I'll just use that. He's a homeless hustler in his late teens; to get out of a jam, he flips quickly through a missing persons website and picks out a kid about his age and look who's been missing for a few years. He only needs it to buy him a few hours; he figures it'll take the cops that long to reach the right jurisdiction.
But Danny Tate's family, it turns out, is rich and powerful, and they show up within hours to whisk him home to their luxurious Los Angeles mansion. Danny expects to be caught at any minute, but it seems to be working. Mom is a fragile drunk; Dad is in jail for a white collar crime, and his older brother and sister seem determined for everything to be happy and healthy. His slightly younger brother seems more skeptical, but of course the five-year-old is on board. Maybe, Danny thinks, this is actually a great opportunity. Maybe he can finally have not just a normal life, but a life of luxury.
Naturally, things aren't that easy. This family has plenty of secrets, and Danny's own secrets might ruin everything. And of course, the question that hangs over his whole scheme: what really happened to Danny Tate?
I really enjoyed this book, and I'm so excited that Terrill's second book was so different from the first and yet with its own very ambitious and complicated goals. There were definitely some things that made me cock an eyebrow in skepticism, but the book did a great job of taking them in stride--it's definitely a case where something that seems off doesn't throw me out of the story, because I completely trust the author to have everything as part of a greater plan.
The melodrama runs thick and deep--the minor plot point that several characters are soap opera addicts is a charming nod to some of the outrageous shenanigans within the story--but there's an extent to which I'll believe anything of the uber-rich. And everyone here has a complex that is just as complex as it ought to be.
The end is a bit out of left field, but I think it works, and I won't say anything beyond that. I ripped through this one fast, and it was a pleasure to read, which is what one asks for from YA in the summer. Can't wait to see what Terrill does next!