Title: Tell the Wolves I’m Home
Author: Carol Rifka Brunt
Publisher: The Dial Press
Release Date: June 2012
Acquired: Purchase from Amazon
Date Finished: May 26, 2015
1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life – someone who will help her to heal and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a sad, poignant novel about loss. It is incredibly depressing, but don’t let that keep you from reading it. I’m not the type of person who likes to read sad books. I don’t like to cry, as some people do. (I actually despise it.) But, this book was so much more than just dealing with loss and was worth the tears.
The entire story revolves around June’s loss of her uncle, Finn, to AIDS in the 1980s, but the majority of the novel is about June’s relationship with her sister, Greta, and her uncle’s partner, Toby. It is about her struggle to keep Finn alive in her heart while growing up and moving on, a true coming of age story.
As a child who grew up in the 80s, I remember the fear, distrust, and hate that surrounded the AIDS outbreak. It was a confusing time and so little was known about the virus. Rumors and untruths ran rampant through society and the people who contracted HIV bore the brunt of that fear and hatred. I thought Tell the Wolves addressed these issues beautifully. It was a fitting tribute to those who have fought and are still fighting that battle.
This is a beautifully sad, heartfelt story. The beginning is a little slow, but it picks up dramatically about 40% in. The writing is really lyrical and helps carry you through the slow spots. The synopsis of this book does not do it justice. I recommend giving it a try. It is a perfect choice for book clubs and generates a lot of discussion.