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Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka…
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Tell the Wolves I'm Home (2012)

by Carol Rifka Brunt

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Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
"Watching people is a good hobby, but you have to be careful about it. You can’t let people catch you staring at them. If people catch you, they treat you like a first-class criminal. And maybe they’re right to do that. Maybe it should be a crime to try to see things about people they don’t want you to see."

2.5* really - but rounded up.

I usually try and stay away from YA literature, but was persuaded to pick this one up because a couple of friends, who usually share my hesitation about YA, recommended this - and what can I say?

For the first half of the book, the recommendation was spot on! I loved the characters, I loved the story, the development, the notion that there are several sides to a story - that by observation or questioning a truth can change -, that ... it sometimes takes effort and courage to be the one who is not content with the facts as they seem.

When June's uncle dies from an AIDS-related illness and her family try to come to terms with their own grief and try to find someone to blame for his death, June is having to overcome her family's silence on the matter and find out what the real story is.

So, why - I hear you ask - only 2.5*?

Well, as much as liked the beginning of the book, there is a point when events become a little over-dramatised. They did not need to be. The story was good as it was. It was the descriptions of June's journey, her coming of age, that made the story special, not the random events that plot seemed to include in the second half.

What really annoyed me, tho, was the ending! I won't go into details as I do not want to spoil the book, but suffice it to say that I have not read anything dwelling on pathos so unapologetically since The Book Thief.
( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
One of my favorite books of the year. Beautifully written, amazing character development, wonderful plot - this book has it all. Absolutely excellent! ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
Since I just recently read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ this novel was similar in that I expended some patience in the initial chapters, to which I was well rewarded by the end of the story. Although I wasn’t immediately lured into the first third of Tell the Wolves I’m Home, I later came to realize that the author was really building background knowledge about the significant relationships in the story. The author, Carol Rifka Brunt, brilliantly reveals the relationship between June Elbus, a fourteen-year-old teenager and her recently deceased uncle, Finn Weiss, who was a gifted, prominent artist. June adored her uncle Finn, and after his death, she comes to know another side to her uncle, as she meets Toby, a strange man who presents himself at her uncle’s funeral. As Brunt discloses the plot of the story, the reader is also drawn into the relationships of June’s mom and dad, and especially her mom’s characterization as a punctilious accountant, but also a once talented prospective artist who previously held a close relationship with her brother Finn. June Elbus is an insecure, seemingly average teenager whose relationship with her older sister Greta has waned. As June develops a secret relationship with Toby, the author reveals June’s extraordinary understanding about what it means to love someone fully, and how she is anything but ordinary. This is the first book in which I’ve seen an author juxtapose several relationships so successfully at the same time, and for that reason, I thought it worthy of five stars. I found the story to be thought provoking, as it presents some philosophical aspects about how one might live a life and what is really important. ( )
  haymaai | Aug 8, 2016 |
Listened to the audiobook version. While I enjoyed the book for the most part, I had difficult accepting the underlining conflict that was to hold the story together. ( )
  MichaelC.Oliveira | Jul 17, 2016 |
Every so often a book comes along to remind us why we love reading, and this was my metaphorical kick up the ass. Similar in style to When You Reach Me and Rainbow and Park, this is a touching young adult novel about a teenage girl called June who loses her uncle to AIDS but finds an unlikely friend in his stricken lover, Toby. June and her sister Greta have grown apart, her parents work all hours, and she has no real friends, but after everything seems to fall apart, a portrait brings the family back together.

I loved all the characters in this story, especially June, who is shy, lonely and slightly naive, but very likeable. Greta, an overachiever at sixteen, seems slightly catty and self-serving at first ('with Greta, you have to look for the nice things buried in the rest of her mean stuff'), yet she obviously has her own battles to fight and comes through in the end. Toby, while perhaps not the best choice of friend for a fourteen year old girl, is quirky enough to be sympathetic, struggling with losing his lover and his own illness. The subject of AIDS is covered appropriately enough for the time in which the novel is set - 1984 - with a mixed sense of shame and anger from Finn's family, especially his sister Danni, June's mother. AZT is the new wonder drug at this point, and 'President Regan was on TV, giving a big speech about AIDS for the first time'. The disease is a death sentence, and dangerously misunderstood by society.

Uncle Finn, a 'free spirit and a good man', cut down in his prime, is the best character, built up in the words of his niece with glimmers of the real man revealed by Toby and Danni. A reclusive artist, one of his last works is a portrait of June and Greta, which he enigmatically titles 'Tell The Wolves I'm Home'. Toby and the two sisters use the portrait to work through their grief, while Toby and June use each other to fulfill their promises to a dying man.

I really enjoyed this novel, from the 1980s setting - 'As 99 Luftballons started up, I sat there waiting for Nena to say "Captain Kirk", the two words in the whole song I understood' - to the emotional theme of love and loss. I found June very relatable, living inside her own imagination but sharp enough to observe the cracks in the world around her, from her parents' taste in greatest hits albums ('the thought of getting even one bum track was too much for them to handle') and her mother's grey roots ('that thin crack where her real self had forced its way through').

A swift read, full of feeling and humour. Recommended. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 13, 2016 |
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For Maddy, Oakley, and Julia
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My sister, Greta, and I were having our portrait painted by our uncle Finn that afternoon because he knew he was dying.
Quotations
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.
You could never see any wolves in there. They hid, probably trying to pretend they weren't in a cage. Probably knowing that they looked just like plain old dogs when they were behind bars.
The gold in our hair looked so perfect right then, and I knew we both saw it. We could see the way it made us look like the closest of sisters. Girls made of exactly the same stuff.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679644199, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2012: In Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt has made a singular portrait of the late-‘80s AIDS epidemic’s transformation of a girl and her family. But beyond that, she tells a universal story of how love chooses us, and how flashes of our beloved live through us even after they’re gone. Before her Uncle Finn died of an illness people don’t want to talk about, 14-year-old June Elbus thought she was the center of his world. A famous and reclusive painter, Finn made her feel uniquely understood, privy to secret knowledge like how to really hear Mozart’s Requiem or see the shape of negative space. When he’s gone, she discovers he had a bigger secret: his longtime partner Toby, the only other person who misses him as much as she does. Her clandestine friendship with Toby—who her parents blame for Finn’s illness—sharpens tensions with her sister, Greta, until their bond seems to exist only in the portrait Finn painted of them. With wry compassion, Brunt portrays the bitter lengths to which we will go to hide our soft underbellies, and how summoning the courage to be vulnerable is the only way to see through to each other’s hungry, golden souls. --Mari Malcolm

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:21 -0400)

"1987. The only one 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 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 ... 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"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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