Tell the Wolves I’m Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt
Summary: In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.
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.
An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, 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.
Source: I purchased a paperback.
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Tell the Wolves I’m Home was a fantastic story about family ties, love, and growing up. While it’s not YA, it is narrated by 14 year old June shortly after her gay uncle passed away and set in the year 1987. She was very close with her uncle and had no idea how she was going to cope with his loss.
June was a weird kid, but I think that made her likeable. She had a strained relationship with her sister, Greta, which came about shortly before their teen years. Finn, June’s uncle, was also her godfather. They spent time together, shared a love of art and music, and June was afraid no one else would ever understand her after he passed. She was aware that he had AIDS, but knew little else about it, as most of the world in that time period.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home captures what it’s like to be a kid and not know the true picture of things. June wasn’t a dumb girl, but there was a lot she didn’t know about her life, mostly because of her family covering things up and hiding information. When Finn died, a strange man appeared at the funeral and everyone seemed to know who he was except June. Those kinds of things that families tend to keep from their children are the things June had no clue about. I loved watching her grow up and figure out that things aren’t always what they seem and that people aren’t always who you thought they were. I’ll never forget the moments that turned by all knowing parents into ordinary and struggling people and June definitely experiences these.
I loved the direction of the book once June met Toby. That moment made June’s perspective change and the growth of her character began rapidly.
I definitely recommend the book. It is a wonderful story that really captures love, loss, family, growing up, and identity. There was only one area I was disappointed with and that was the character of Ben because I wished for more closure with him. I really liked him, despite the fact that was only in a couple scenes. Other than that, it was a wonderful story.