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Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka…

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

by Carol Rifka Brunt

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Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
This is a good story. It's not a great, earth-shattering, can't-put-it-down story, but it's a good story. It was more like a young adult novel than I realized it would be. Some of the social/cultural issues about AIDS seemed so far away, time-wise. I feel like we (the royal we) have come a long way in understanding AIDS, so I didn't relate to some of the taboo-ness that this book dealt with. What I loved most was the relationship between June and Greta. Sisterhood at that age, regardless of life circumstances, is so special and identity-forming. I was more invested in the relationship June had with Greta than the one she formed with Toby. Like I said, this is a good story. I'd recommend it to someone, but I wouldn't say, "You HAVE to read this!" ( )
  KimHooperWrites | Mar 22, 2015 |
Every now and again there is a story that begs to be told; I think this is one of them. It is a poignant story about impossible, unspeakable loss, backward beliefs, misunderstandings, secrets, and shame for no good reason. I am not sure this book will attract a wide audience. The subject is “old hat” to some, too intense for others, but for those who lived during the era of the Aids Epidemic, those whose lives were touched by someone like Finn or Toby, a homosexual couple, this book will be very moving, meaningful and memorable.
Junie Elbus was a dreamer, a "romantic" as her Uncle Finn said. She was young; she wanted to live in medieval times, become a falconer, or a teacher. Her older sister, Greta, at sixteen was a senior in high school. She was more grounded. An achiever, she was bright as well as a talented performer. Both Elbus parents were Accountants who worked together in a business partnership. The book tells the story of this family, forced to face the revelation of homosexuality and the shame associated with Aids, the disease with no known cure or even treatment. It takes place in the 1980’s, when Aids was a fairly unknown and unforgiving disease. It was a death sentence. It was a time when Aids was also the hidden disease. When victims died, it was said they died from unconfirmed causes. The method of transmission was uncertain, creating fear and isolating those infected. The gay community was ostracized and ridiculed, making the situation much worse. The victims were pariahs; they suffered alone, for the most part, unless they were tended by those who were suffering along with them.
Fourteen year old June is the godchild of her Uncle Finn, whom she absolutely adores, but unknown to her, until his death, is his homosexuality. Her mom has hidden his partnership from her, and she has refused to acknowledge his partner in any way, either before his death or afterwards, forcing June to make decisions the adults refused to consider. Her coming of age was both tender and painful as she faced her uncle’s death, his formerly unknown partner Toby’s wish to develop a friendship with her, her older sister Greta’ coldness and jealousy, her parent’s work schedule, her mother’s fears and her own loneliness and neediness. Perception is a looming issue in this story; there is the perception of normal, of sexuality, lying, drinking, love, friendship, talent, capability, reality, danger and fantasy. Both parents want June to be more involved socially, more successful like her sister, whom they excessively praise and admire, even as she deteriorates before their eyes, although they are blind to her decline.
As I read the book, I wondered how many people reading it could truly identify with it, had actually lived through it with anyone, was familiar with Bellevue Hospital, with the lonely wraiths walking the halls dejectedly, because no one would touch them, no one was there to comfort them as they withered and wasted away. I can still see, in my mind’s eye, the robed, sad men slowly shambling down the hallways, sadness and pain written on their gaunt faces, alone, unwanted, spurned and humiliated. I remember the time clearly because I was touched by the tragedy, but still, I never rejected my gay friend, whose life must have been one of secret horror, since he could never truly be who he was, and even after being diagnosed, he could never admit that he was homosexual or bisexual, rather he said he had cancer, although he had Aids. It was just not discussed. I watched with anguish knowing this man so dear to me was doomed. I was grateful that he had a partner who would stand by him, with him, but sad when she refused to be tested or to take any type of preventive treatment, even after losing her own brother to the dreaded disease, as well.
I wondered how many reading the story would have been mature enough and brave enough to do the things that June did, to visit, drink from the washed glasses, touch the hands, kiss the cheeks, hug and offer solace to the sufferer. My heart breaks when I think of my friend’s unnecessary shame, for his unnecessary loneliness and for his misfortune to have gotten Aids before the drugs to help him were available. My heart aches because of the ignorance of the adults in the room, when the child had more compassion and willingness to learn and understand than all the learned people around her who instead of loving and helping the victim, were busy protecting themselves from the shame associated with the disease, for knowing someone with the disease brought on unrealistic fears and friends who rejected them. I am glad that Aids is no longer the dreaded disease it once was and sorry for its earliest of victims. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Feb 18, 2015 |
I started listening to this book on Audible and it didn't really draw me in. Despite that, I picked up a hard copy at the airport and decided to give it another go. I am glad that I did. I became much more compelled by the book as the story unfolded. Much like it has been expressed in other reviews, at first I didn't buy the relationship between June and Toby, particularly how desperate and available Toby seemed to be. It did begin to make more sense as I came to understand Toby's past, his status in this country and the promise that he had made to Finn, June's uncle. I was also skeptical about the nature of June's romantic feelings towards her uncle but this too seemed to make more sense as the book unfolded. In the end, I was touched by the pain of such a forbidden first love and, knowing that nothing occurred between them to exploit these feelings allowed me to experience the naturalness of this with her without being appalled. I was more disturbed by the relationships with the sister and often had difficulty buying the degree of animosity that the sister demonstrated without June, who was otherwise quite astute, understanding what lay beneath. Though the jealousy that Greta experienced seemed believable, the acts of burying herself in the woods did feel like a stretch for me as a mechanism for getting June's attention. Overall, I enjoyed this read very much and know that the characters will be lingering with me in the days to come. ( )
  franklinki | Feb 2, 2015 |
I did not finish this book. However, I think this was more from the fact that I lost interest in this genre in general than any fault of the author's. I will try reading it again in a few months. ( )
  rjc146 | Jan 23, 2015 |
This writing isn't spectacular; it's good, but it isn't as subtle or mysterious or beautiful or poignant as the story. The story is sad and wonderful and hard. ( )
  Michelle_Detorie | Nov 18, 2014 |
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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.
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:58 -0400)

It is 1987, and only one person has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus -- 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.… (more)

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