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review 2018-02-27 16:37
Tell the Wolves I'm Home / Carol Rifka Brunt
Tell The Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt

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.

 

My real-life book club is indulging in a year of reading young adult literature, and this is our March selection. I am also using it to fulfill the “book about grief” selection for my 2018 PopSugar Challenge and the entry for B in my Female Authors A to Z challenge.

The main character, June, spends the course of the book figuring out the nature of love and grief in life. She realizes that we say “love” but that it can represent a variety of different emotions—between parents and children, between siblings, for good friends, even for favourite foods, as well as romantic connection. She learns about her mother’s estrangement from her brother, June’s beloved Uncle Finn. She navigates the yawning distance developing between her sister Greta and herself. She processes the loss of Finn and finds a new connection with his partner Toby.

What a great portrayal of life in all its messiness! If you’ve lived through some family rifts or somehow found yourself further away from a sibling that you ever believed possible, you will find something to hang onto in this novel. The relationships were realistic, not melodramatic or overdone. Although the grief was palpable in places, it didn’t send me rushing to a tissue box, like Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls.

I am constantly amazed at how much really good writing there is out there in the Young Adult genre—if you enjoy YA, add this one to your reading pile.

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review 2016-04-24 16:20
heartbreaking, Uplifting, Thought-provoking and Totally Stunning
Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt

Oh my, what a book; heartbreaking, uplifting, thought-provoking and totally stunning. I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this wonderful debut.

 

I’m not quite sure how to categorize this book. It’s a coming of age story. It’s a story about first love. This book tells the tale of the aftermath of a devastating loss. Tell the Wolves I’m Home is about human imperfection and isn’t afraid to be honest about selfishness while showing there are always opportunities to redeem ourselves again.

 

This story deals with AIDS at a time when the disease first exploded into our consciousness. That in and of itself would be more than enough to make this a thought-provoking read. But it does more. It places the disease in the middle of other, timeless, struggles. June is only fourteen when her beloved uncle and godfather Finn dies. It is her first confrontation with the cruelty of death, and since it is the uncle she not only loves but has also fallen in love with who dies, it triggers an avalanche of feelings in her she’s just not equipped to deal with yet.

 

I admired the honesty of the author. June is not always a nice character to read about. Some of her feelings and actions are totally selfish—without regard for the feelings of others or potential consequences. And that’s only right. Fourteen is a tough time even when your life runs smoothly. Through June’s experiences we see the continued struggle growing up can be and while it isn’t always easy to read, it does sound true to life and was, for me at least, totally recognisable. After all, doesn’t every teenager just know that nobody has ever loved as deeply or hurt as badly as they do?

 

While AIDS features prominently in this story, I wouldn’t say it is a story about the disease. For me it was a story about growing up, about losing and finding again both yourself and those around you. The tale it tells was all to recognisable for me; suddenly losing the connection you’ve always had to your parents and sibling(s), the overpowering hugeness of the new feelings you experience, and the push and pull between wanting to discover the rest of your life while yearning for the simplicity of yesterday.

 

For me this was a poignant and brutally honest story. There are no easy answers, nor comfortable solutions. Not every issue is resolved, nor every worry erased. And while that means Tell the Wolves I’m Home wasn’t always easy to read it did make the book totally engrossing and I can say with absolute certainty that this story will play on my mind for quite some time to come.

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review 2016-03-22 16:24
Just wonderful
Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt
  I don't have much to say - it is just wonderful. I loved every word and I can't add anything to that!
   
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text 2015-07-18 17:52
Powiedz wilkom, że jestem w domu
Powiedz wilkom, że jestem w domu - Carol Rifka Brunt

Podoba mi się tytuł. Książki powinny mieć długie tytuły. 

                           

Jestem prawie pewna, że przeczytałam gdzieś, że to „powieść młodzieżowa”, ale teraz nie mogę znaleźć tego stwierdzenia powtórnie i już chyba sama nie wiem.

 

Jak napisali z tyłu: „słodko-gorzka, melancholijna opowieść o głębokiej przyjaźni, skomplikowanej rywalizacji między siostrami i zmaganiach z nieuleczalną chorobą” – właściwie prawda.

 

Napisali też, że: „narracja Brunt przypomina odsłonięty nerw pulsujący w agonalnych drgawkach” – albo źle sobie to wyobrażam, albo to akurat zdecydowanie nieprawda (bo wszystko brzmi bardziej jak ta „powieść młodzieżowa” jednak).

 

Mam wrażenie,  że mało tam się dzieje, ale… Jeśli z przyjemnością czytało mi się 400 stron, na których mało się dzieje, to znaczy, że narracja – ze swoimi wszystkimi ozdobnikami i dygresjami – daje radę.

 

Szkoda tylko, że w większość trudno było mi uwierzyć – nie wzruszało, nie było mi bliskie. Ale może to po prostu niewłaściwy moment albo niewłaściwa ja. 

 

*****

Wracam tutaj!

Wracam do słów, pisania i książek.

Empik stworzył listę 100 lektur, które trzeba znać – spodobała mi się i zawstydziła, także dużo czytania. Będzie prześwietnie.

 

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review 2015-03-18 00:00
Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel
Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel - Carol Rifka Brunt Set against the backdrop of the early years of the AIDS epidemic, this was a touching coming of age story. Not only has 14 year old June just lost her Uncle Finn to AIDS, but there are secrets coming out that have her questioning all she has thought about her Uncle and her family.

There are a number of relationships in this book that are tinged with jealousy and misunderstanding. The most egregious is June's mother Danni, whose jealousy and misdirected anger at her brother Finn, over her own inability to stand on her own and move on, has resulted in an emotional blackmail with years of lies and is causing June even more pain as she tries to grieve.

June's relationship with Toby, the only other person she feels might understand her pain, is fraught with complications and her older sister Greta seems to be spiraling downward before her eyes. I related to June and her "weirdness" and Toby was a bright spot in the story. Even Greta grew on me in the end, but I couldn't find myself giving Danni any good thoughts.

Heartbreaking at times, this was a good read with layered relationships and interesting characters that made for a good book club discussion.
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