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Tell the wolves I'm home : a novel by…
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Tell the wolves I'm home : a novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Carol Rifka Brunt

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1,7361454,078 (4.15)86
Member:twinkley
Title:Tell the wolves I'm home : a novel
Authors:Carol Rifka Brunt
Info:New York : Dial Press, c2012.
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:coming of age

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

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Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
A touching book exploring a young teenager's experiences with death, AIDS, loss of a best friend, loss of a close relationship with a sister, etc. That sounds dark, but it's generally quite a sweet coming-of-age story, with other likable characters as well. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
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 | Jan 17, 2016 |
The only person who has ever really understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus is her Uncle Finn, a famous painter who is also her godfather, confidant and best friend. With him, she always feels safe and important. So when he dies of AIDS and her mother withdraws into silence, June feels completely lost. Her sister, Greta, has grown increasingly distant over the last several months, her parents, both accountants, are caught up in tax season, and she hasn’t any friends at school. But there is someone who understands how devastating Finn’s death has been for June. A few days after Finn’s funeral June receives a package – the beautiful Russian teapot Finn always used. Inside the pot is a note from Toby, a man who knew Finn and misses him, too.

This is an emotional coming-of-age story, set in 1987 when a diagnosis of AIDS was a certain death sentence, and many people responded with fear and cruelty against those afflicted and their families. I liked the very personal story of one family’s response to this issue, and particularly how Brunt used an innocent child to concentrate on the love and admiration for the person, rather than the disease that killed him. June is a remarkable young protagonist. She is sensitive and caring, but lacks confidence and feels alone due to her “differentness” and feelings that no one understands her. Her youth and lack of maturity lead her to make some startling naïve decisions, and her inability (and inexperience) in reading people’s motives contributes to her confusion and distress. Ultimately, however, she shows great courage and great love.

I was in tears towards the end – something that rarely happens to me. And I really liked the final resolution of the story. I thought Brunt did a good job of recreating that near-hysteria of the time, but I was disturbed by the amount of freedom June and Greta had, and the total lack of supervision their parents exercised over them. How they got away with all they got away with is astounding to me. I was also conflicted about Toby, his motivations, and behavior. He is an adult, and while he has his own vulnerabilities, I have a hard time looking away or excusing him.

However, the emotional impact of the story completely carried me away, and it’s on the strength of that reaction that I give it 5 stars.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Wonderful. ( )
  erinclark | Jan 9, 2016 |
Never finished it. Liked what I read but wasn't blown away.
  KerryAD | Dec 30, 2015 |
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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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