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Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel by Carol…
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Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Carol Rifka Brunt

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1,8141553,854 (4.15)87
Member:jomartay
Title:Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel
Authors:Carol Rifka Brunt
Info:The Dial Press (2012), Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:have read, Your library, fiction, audiobooks
Rating:****
Tags:AIDS, read 2013, artist

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

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English (154)  Swedish (1)  All languages (155)
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Tell the Wolves I’m Home portrays an awkward young girl’s struggle to comprehend love in a time and a culture when AIDS awareness was just beginning. Fourteen-year-old June Elbus feels closer to her uncle Finn than anyone else on earth. A renowned artist, he takes her to the Cloisters and introduces her to Mozart’s Requiem. June’s love for Finn will not die even though Finn is. It’s 1987, and he has AIDS. In the final months of his life, Finn spends Sunday afternoons painting a portrait of June and her sister, Greta, that he titles “Tell the Wolves I’m Home.” The girls’ mother, Finn’s sister, disapproves of her brother’s homosexuality and worries about whether the girls could catch AIDS from something as innocent as using their uncle’s lip balm. AIDS was relatively new in the late 1980s and the fear was rampant as was the embarrassment of association. After Finn’s death June struggles to sort out her complicated feelings for her uncle alone until the day Finn’s boyfriend Toby delivers a package. June had not met Toby previously and her mother believes Toby is the one who “murdered” Finn. The package includes a note from Finn, a sort of last request, asking June to look after Toby. As June and Toby become acquainted, she learns things she never knew about Finn. Each story Toby shares offers June greater understanding of the person she loved more than anyone else. The revelations also leave June confused. If she didn’t know these things Toby reveals about Finn, did she even really know her uncle? I found this book to be original, heartfelt, and well-written. It took me a little while to get into the novel but once I did I thought it was a wonderful story with realistic characters. " ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jun 16, 2016 |
A reading friend recommended this to me. I'd passed it over in the book giveaway lists because I've been steering clear of coming of age novels of late. But with the recommendation, I got an e-copy of it on loan from my library, and began reading it a day before heading off to New York City for a long overdue reunion.

I was a slightly awkward adolescent, lost in my own imaginings, yet able to make an occasional successful foray into the world around me thanks to some dear friends who never mocked my oddities, and encouraged interactions on a level I was comfortable. By the time I reached high school, I was able to successfully separate my mind travels from everyday life; thinker disguised as teenager. Entering into June's world brought those memories to the surface, though June's world is of the late 1980's when I was already a couple of decades out of adolescence.

What truly captured me was the inclusion of The Cloisters as a sanctuary, memory, and haven for June and her uncle Toby. I'd never been to The Cloisters, though have read about the place so many times, that if I had a bucket list, going there would be one item. This trip, my family and I fulfilled that wish, and spent an afternoon wandering simultaneously through Upper Manhattan and Medieval Europe. Because of June's love of the place, and the book's descriptions, there was art and artifacts that I "recognized" especially "Enthroned Virgin and Child", the birch statue of Mary and Jesus with the baby's head missing. (Better picture and image of it here Thanks to June, it was not my first visit to Fort Tryon Park, nor the first time I smelled the air, still reminiscent of Catholicism. To be fair, June and Toby's love of Mozart’s Requiem, tea, Amadeus, and A Room With A View, also hit chimes with me, as all are loves of mine. And whether it's a beloved uncle, or the boy down the street, first loves can be both beautiful and heart-breaking, truly deserving of the word "bittersweet" and the stuff of memories.


As to the cause of Toby's death, I was still practicing as a nurse when AIDS first appeared. My awareness and understanding of it came from the medical aspect, though all too soon, people I knew in my personal life, not just as patients, began to contract the disease. AIDS is indirectly responsible for my own health woes, as exposure to improperly treated latex/natural rubber rushed into production for gloves into the medical system are what caused my own latex allergy and resulting pulmonary ills.

This book also had some other elements that played favorably for me, particularly the examination of sibling relationships, both for June and her sister, and for her mother and uncle. I thought the author did a nice job, as well, revealing the growing friendship between June and Toby, the lover of her dead uncle. The tiny dips into the art world, and New York City also matched my days of reading the book on the train, in a park, curled up at night while the sounds of 6th Ave bustled outside my hotel window.

There are those who will be impatient, want a faster pace, less adolescent angst. Fine. This may not be the book for you. But for me, this was the best time and place to tell the wolves I'm home.

Tags: 2016-read, e-book, read-on-recommendation, places-i-have-been, taught-me-something, made-me-look-something-up, made-me-think, thank-you-charleston-county-library, first-novel-or-book ( )
  bookczuk | Jun 9, 2016 |
OMG. ?Brilliant. ?áSo much to think about. ?áPerfect for holding close to one's heart, but also for discussion groups. ?áAnd perfect for the YA audience. ?áThey deserve the respect; ?áthey deserve quality books like this... the short melodramas usually offered them are patronizing and probably not enriching. ?á I'm guessing that Brunt had, at least early on, thought of making it a YA book, but then somebody told her it was 'good enough for adults.'

I enjoyed the references to the era. ?áTo me this is not historical fiction; I was there. ?áI was a parent of a toddler, not a teen, but still I remember enough that this feels authentic.

June definitely feels real, in her boots and Gunne Sax.

Of course I'm disturbed by the cigarettes, alcohol, sexuality, criminality... but again, they're authentic to the characters and necessary.

I didn't particularly like the busy & pushy mother, of course... but think of this: Finn wouldn't have been such an amazing person if he hadn't grown up with her.

I had trouble believing in the character of Greta, since she used no intelligence to sort out her challenges... but then I remembered that intelligence is not the same as wisdom, and also some of the stupid things I did when young, when I was supposedly smart enough to know better.

Even though I have no wish to visit NYC for any typical reason, I do love the descriptions of the Cloisters, and googling images reinforces the fantasy that, if I ever do go to the city, I will visit them.

The title is eventually 'explained' but I still don't get it and would welcome a conversation about it. ?á

I'm sure there's lots more I want to say, but the thoughts are whirling still and I just can't pin them down.

Mostly the book is accessible and an easy enough, enjoyable read. ?áIt gets only truly intense at the end, at which point it gets just a tiny bit melodramatic, too. ?áThe yuck factor is manageable.

I wouldn't mind rereading this someday.... ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Book Description
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.
 
My Review
This is a book not to be missed. It is a heart-wrenching story so well written that the characters will live in your heart forever. There is a mixture of love, envy, jealousy, family, grief, loss and redemption which is beautifully transmitted in a very compassionate, moving way. Be sure to save this one on your ever growing to be read list!" ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
A really compelling story. The family, Father, Mother and two Sister, that I am not able to forget! ( )
  elsyd | May 11, 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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