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Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel Hardcover – June 19, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679644199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679644194
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,304 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

Review

Tell the Wolves I'm Home was named one of the Wall Street Journal's Top 10 Novels of 2012, one of Oprah.com's Best Books of 2012, one of Kirkus Reviews' top 100 books of the year, and one of Booklist's Top 10 First Novels of 2012 as well as a 2012 O Magazine Favorite Read.  It is also a Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist for Fiction and a Shelf Awareness Reviewer's Choice pick for 2012.

“A dazzling debut novel.” – O Magazine

“Tremendously moving…Brunt strikes a difficult balance, imbuing June with the disarming candor of a child and the melancholy wisdom of a heart-scarred adult."The Wall Street Journal

“In this lovely debut novel set in the 1980s, Carol Rifka Brunt takes us under the skin and inside the tumultuous heart of June Elbus…Distracted parents, tussling adolescents, the awful ghost-world of the AIDS-afflicted before AZT—all of it springs to life in Brunt’s touching and ultimately hopeful book.”--People

“[A] transcendent debut… Peopled by characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt’s novel is a beautifully bittersweet mix of heartbreak and hope.”Booklist (starred review)

“Carol Rifka Brunt’s astonishing first novel is so good, there’s no need to grade on a curve: Tell the Wolves I'm Home is not only one of the best debuts of 2012, it’s one of the best books of the year, plain and simple.  In a literary landscape overflowing with coming-of-age stories, Tell the Wolves I'm Home rises above the rest. The narrative is as tender and raw as an exposed nerve, pulsing with the sharpest agonies and ecstasies of the human condition.”—Bookpage
 

“A poignant debut…Brunt's first novel elegantly pictures the New York art world of the 1980s, suburban Westchester and the isolation of AIDS.”--Kirkus

“In [Tell the Wolves I’m Home], 15-year-old June must come to terms with the death of her beloved uncle Finn, an artist, from AIDS in 1980s New York. …What begins as a wary relationship between former rivals for Finn’s affection blossoms touchingly.”-PW

“[This] gut-wrenching portrayal of a 13-year-old coping with her beloved Uncle Finn’s death from AIDS more than delivers.”—Daily Candy

“[A] striking first outing…Brunt weaves a terrific coming-of-age story, painting a vibrant picture of June’s dreams and insecurities as she teeters on the border between childhood and maturity.”—The Onion A.V. Club

“An uplifting debut novel about loss, love, and unlikely friendships in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic …a literary pleasure read.”—BookBrowse

 “[A] beautiful novel of love and loss… accessible, sensitively told, and heartbreaking.”--School Library Journal Blogs (Starred Review)

 “If summer reading means being wholly transported to another era, I recommend Carol Rifka Brunt's brilliant and thoughtful debut novel Tell the Wolves I'm Home.”-- David Gutowski, of Largehearted Boy, on The Atlantic Wire

“With this debut novel that flawlessly encapsulates the fragile years during the mid-'80s when the specter of AIDS began to haunt society at large, Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch…TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME will undoubtedly be this summer's literary sleeper hit.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Brunt's debut novel is both a painful reminder of the ill-informed responses to a once little-known disease and a delightful romp through an earlier decade. The relationship issues with parents and siblings should appeal to YA audiences, but adult readers will enjoy the suspenseful plot and quirky characters”—Library Journal

“A fresh yet nostalgic debut novel about a 1980s teen who loses a beloved uncle to AIDS but finds herself by befriending his grieving boyfriend. Filled with lost opportunities and second chances, Tell the Wolves I'm Home delivers wisdom, innocence and originality with surprising sweetness. Its cast of waifs and strays will steal your heart as they show each other the way to redemption.” –Shelf Awareness

“A gorgeously evocative novel about love, loss, and the ragged mysteries of the human heart, all filtered through the achingly real voice of a remarkable young heroine. How can you not fall in love with a book that shows you how hope can make a difference?”—Caroline Leavitt,  New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
 
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a charming, sure-handed, and deeply sympathetic debut. Brunt writes about family, adolescence, and the human heart with great candor, insight, and pathos.”—Jonathan Evison, New York Times bestselling author of West of Here
 
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tale as charming and magnetic as the missing character at its heart. It’s a love story of the most unusual kind—several love stories, really—vivid and madly relatable, heartening as well as heartbreaking. Brunt is a captivating storyteller and a wonderful new voice.”—Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrower

“Not since To Kill A Mockingbird have I read a piece of fiction that so beautifully captures the point of view of a young person, especially one so inspiringly unable to accept the prejudices of others….at turns getting away- with-it exhilarating and pass-the-tissues heartbreaking — but also a testament to the power of secrets kept and revealed.”Metrosource


More About the Author

Originally from New York, Carol Rifka Brunt now lives in England with her husband and three kids. Her work has been published in The North American Review, The Sun and elsewhere and has received funding from the New Writing Partnership and Arts Council England. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is her first novel.

Customer Reviews

Very well written, I could feel the characters.
Patricia Bonne
There are many kinds of love, and this story explores love, envy, jealously, family, grief, loss and redemption.
Jambo
Loved the characters,story line was so well written.
Katie Bishop

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Daffy Du VINE VOICE on July 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This deeply moving novel, told from the point of view of an awkward 14-year-old girl in 1987, kept reminding me of To Kill a Mockingbird, which it even references once in passing. That's not to say that it's derivative--it most certainly isn't--but it is a powerful book about love, discrimination and misunderstanding, with a young female narrator, set in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, which figures prominently in the story. I couldn't recommend it more highly.

June Elbus is the goddaughter of her beloved uncle Finn, a celebrated artist who is dying of AIDS. As one of his last acts, he decides to paint a portrait of her and her sister, Greta. Once he dies, she learns that he was in a committed relationship with a man named Toby, who seeks her out, even though her family blames him for Finn's disease. Eventually they become close friends--she often sneaks into New York City from Westchester to visit him. And somewhat reluctantly, she begins to share memories of Finn with Toby, who has secrets of his own.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is too complex a story to recap here, but along the way, Greta, a gifted singer who had been June's close friend and is now a mean older sister, contends with her own insecurities; their mother, Finn's sister, deals with her own lost opportunities; and once the painting's existence is leaked to the press, it becomes a focal point for much of the storyline. Because of Finn's renown and the fact that he hadn't produced any new shows for the past eight years, it is suddenly extremely valuable. I especially liked June's fixation on the Middle Ages, which she shared with Finn, and her inept interactions with her peers, especially young Ben, who keeps trying to interest her in Dungeons and Dragons.
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144 of 162 people found the following review helpful By wordsmith on June 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've been thinking about this novel ever since I closed the book and will be recommending it to everyone I know! 14-year-old June is a winningly awkward narrator who wishes she lived in the Middle Ages - she wears long skirts and lace-up boots, lugs around The Portable Medieval Reader, and wants to be a falconer when she grows up. We meet her in 1987 New York and her favorite uncle has just died of AIDS. Her parents seem more angry and bewildered than sad and June, with no one else to turn to to deal with her grief, strikes up an unlikely friendship with her uncle's boyfriend. Rifka Brunt does an amazing job charting their relationship in this brilliant coming-of-age novel.
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187 of 216 people found the following review helpful By Jambo on June 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I started the day with a one, maybe two cup. In bed. With this book. And it was a good thing that there was nothing urgent I had to do that day, because I read it in one sitting. Loved everything about this wonderful story. There are many kinds of love, and this story explores love, envy, jealously, family, grief, loss and redemption. There were several times when I cried. The good kinda of crying, not the sad kind. I hugged this book to my chest when I was done. What a lovely debut novel. The world is a better place with this book in it. 5 stars.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Tracy M VINE VOICE on August 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have reviewed over two hundred books on Amazon in recent years, and in each case I point out the virtues and flaws in each one. This is the first time I have absolutely nothing negative to say about a novel I'm reviewing. TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME is brilliant, and deeply moving without being sentimental or melodramatic. It is truly a must read.

In the novel, June, the 14 year old heroine, is not a typical teenager of the 1980s. She listens repeatedly to Mozart's Requiem, wears lace-up boots and wishes she were a falconer in the Middle Ages.

When the story begins, uncle Finn whom June adores, dies of Aids. Her accountant parents are buried in tax returns, and her older sister Greta, with whom she used to be close, treats her cruelly. Little does she expect that she will develop a secret friendship with Finn's lover Toby, who likewise is deeply grieving Finn's death, and who also has Aids. To complicate matters, June's mother, jealous of her brother Finn's attachment to Toby, will have nothing to do with Toby, and blames him for Finn's death.

Also central to the novel is a painting that the renowned artist, Finn has painted of Greta and June - a painting which will have a significant role to play upon June's relationship with her sister and her parents.

Author Brunt writes of June's experience of Finn: "Other than the green tie at his waist, the only color Finn had was in the little splotches of paint all over his white smock. The colors of me and Greta. I felt like grabbing the paintbrush out of his hand so I could color him in, paint him back to his old self."

With astute and idiosyncratic detail, Brunt realistically conveys the experience of growing up in the 1980s, when the specter of Aids is haunting the nation.
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111 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tell The Wolves I'm Home is not a badly written book; quite the opposite. Carol Rifka Brunt writes a very compelling coming-of-age story of an alienated teenager named June Elbus, who forms a very close and special attachment to her uncle Finn. He is the only one who truly "gets" her, but very early on, he dies of AIDS.

June soon discovers that Finn had a longtime partner named Toby; June's mother forced Finn to not reveal his existence as a condition for spending time with June and her sister Greta. The friendship that develops between June and Toby is the catalyst to heal them both...if only they will let it.

It's a heartwarming book yet it seems to me that Tell The Wolves I'm Home works better as YA (young adult) literature. It has all the elements: teen protagonists, a theme that is subordinated to more tangible aspects of plot, setting and character, very telegraphed messages, and an educational aspect about what it was like to be gay at the advent of the AIDS epidemic. The message is one of tolerance and forgiveness - a message that is too often lacking in the country today. If I were reviewing this book as YA literature, I might have very well 5-starred it.

But I came into the book with other expectations. There are some fine portrayals here; June's testy relationship with her slightly older sister, Greta, is quite authentic. The unveiling of family secrets and motivations is likewise compelling. And the backdrop of the 1980s - a time of many anxieties and also possibilities - works nicely.

My rating is based solely on my own reading experience and should not distract other readers from picking up this book about two lonely people, trying to come to terms with their grief. Many readers/reviewers I respect connected far better than I did.
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