Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

by Carol Rifka Brunt
March 21-April 10, 2013

I don't quite remember how I discovered this book, but I will always be thankful that I did. This one hit close to home. I lost my godfather in the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1989. At the time I'm not sure I fully understood the impact of the disease, but since then I find myself in instant tears the moment I hear of another person's struggle.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is the author's debut novel. Kudos to Carol, because I was drawn in from the first page. June is a 14-year old girl whose world revolves around her uncle, a famous painter, Finn. It's tax season and her accountant parents have left June and her sister Greta "tax season orphans." But every Sunday, June, her mother and sister head to Finn's mysterious apartment and sit for a portrait he is trying to paint before he dies. Once the painting is finished, it's not long before Finn is gone too. June is empty without him and her sister is horribly mean and spiteful to her. Then she makes an unlikely friend, learns more of her uncle's past, and struggles with her grief.

Brunt writes a beautiful sentence. Her metaphors are like magic. I absorbed every single word with such emotion that they had me weeping for the last few chapters  Even though it was completely relatable to me, I don't think that's the only reason I enjoyed this book so much. I would find myself stopping in the middle of the day to read a quick chapter. The night I finished it, it was nearly 1am, but I couldn't put it down.

“But maybe I am. Maybe that’s exactly what I am. Maybe all I wanted was for Toby to hear the wolves that lived in the dark forest of my heart. And maybe that’s what it meant. Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Maybe Finn understood everything, as usual. You may as well tell them where you live, because they’ll find you anyway. They always do.”

People may contend that this fits in the Young Adult genre. But I need to argue that, just because the protagonist is teenager, does not make it YA. The themes are so adult in nature, and although June may be wise beyond her years, people of all ages will easily relate to the subject matter. This book will be in my heart for a long time.

* * * * *