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tell the wolves2Title: Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Author: Carol Rifka Brunt

Publisher/Edition: Pan Books (Paperback Edition 2013)

Pages: 376p

Bought at: Kinokuniya Nge Ann City (SGD 15,95)

It’s hard to review a good book, and it’s almost impossible to review the great one. But I’ll try 🙂

June Elbus was very closed with her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. As an introvert and shy 14-year-old girl, June didn’t have many friends, and she felt Finn could understand her like nobody did, not even her older sister Greta.

Then Finn was sick, very sick, and he asked his two nieces to pose for him, and to let him make the last painting of his life.

After Finn’s gone, June’s life felt very empty. Until a stranger showed up in her life, a stranger named Toby, who was very closed to Finn but for some reason always been kept as a secret from June.

Together, June and Toby embarked in a journey, where they tried to find the meaning of their lives, now that Finn, the best part of them, had already gone.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is the remarkable first novel of Carol Rifka Brunt. The setting is New York City in the 80s, so lots of songs and pop culture references from this era that feels so right for this book.

The themes of this book are pretty heavy, but covered in beautiful language, easy to digest words and dramatic storyline (I cried several times reading this book and that is always a good sign!). This book talked about the outbreak of AIDS and the lack of knowledge about the disease in the 80s, LGBT and people’s reaction at the time, sibling relationships and of course, the self discovery.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is the kind of book that doesn’t really fall in a certain category: a bit of YA, coming of age novel, but the content is more suitable for adults. For me I’m glad to read it as an adult so I could reflect with the story from my current point of view.

I love June as a narrator, she’s vulnerable, insecure but not pathetic. I also love Greta, the older sister, to show the readers that she is more than just a mean, cruel, annoying big sister. But I love Toby the most, the outsider who’s been a secret for too long.
It’s too bad we didn’t have a chance to know Finn firsthand since he’s already dead when the book starts. But knowing him through June’s (and everyone else’s) eyes is pretty interesting too.

I always long for this kind of book, and I do hope Brunt’s next one will be as good as her first- or even better!

Some quotes:

“You could try to believe what you wanted, but it never worked. Your brain and your heart decided what you were going to believe and that was that. Whether you liked it or not.”

“Maybe I was destined to forever fall in love with people I couldn’t have. Maybe there’s a whole assortment of impossible people waiting for me to find them. Waiting to make me feel the same impossibility over and over again.”