July 26, 2014
Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
2012 Random House
Finished on 4/29/14
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
Tell the Wolves I’m Home, was named a best book of the year by The Wall Street Journal, O Magazine, Kirkus, BookPage and Amazon. It was also a Barnes and Noble Discover pick, Target club pick, Costco Pennie’s pick, New York Times bestseller, as well as an American Library Association Alex Award winner.
My sister Greta and I were having our portrait painted by our Uncle Finn that afternoon because he knew he was dying . . .
1987. The only person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus is her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can be herself only 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. At the funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail containing 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 that this unexpected friend just might be the one she needs the most.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.
When I started reading Tell the Wolves I’m Home, I was instantly transported back to the mid-1980s when the national and local news was filled with horror stories (and panic) about AIDS, both here in the United States and in countries all over the world. Today, AIDS is still very much a world-wide epidemic and yet it doesn’t seem quite as prevalent in the headlines as it once was. Other than a friend of a friend, I have only known one person to have this terrible disease. Wilson was a young man with whom I worked with at HBJ Publishers in San Diego and although I didn’t know him very well, he and my husband were good friends and we were devastated when we learned of his untimely death from the disease in 1986.
Carol Rifka Brunt’s debut novel is an exquisite story about a young girl and the close relationship she shares with her uncle, and ultimately, the formation of a unique friendship with her uncle’s partner, Toby. I read this absorbing book as slowly as possible, trying to savor Brunt’s lyrical prose, and although it took me a couple of weeks to read, I wanted to continue reading and was sorry when I came to the end of the book. This is a powerful tale of love and loyalty and is quite simply unforgettable. Someday, I would love to listen to the audio edition of this coming-of-age novel and I think, in the right hands, it would make an excellent film.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is one of the best books I’ve read this year. While talking with friends and customers about specific books dealing with a difficult subject-matter such as Alzheimer’s and AIDS, I am often met with resistance to even considering giving the book a chance. I do hope that readers won’t be put off when they learn that this book is about AIDS. While Brunt’s novel is essentially about the death of a man infected with AIDS, I feel the disease is simply a backdrop to an achingly beautiful story about the tender relationship between 14-year-old June and her uncle’s partner, Toby. I thoroughly enjoyed this author’s engaging style and endearing characters, and I look forward to seeing what she has in store for her second novel!