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Tell the Wolves I'm Home Paperback – June 4, 2013
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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
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Top customer reviews
A coming of age story dealing with loss, grief, friendship, and so much more. It's 1987 and June is 14 years old. She is lonely and awkward and shy, especially as she stands in the shadow of her older sister who seems to have every gift in the world. June is lucky in that she has her godfather, her uncle Finn, who is warm, caring, and allows her to be herself. They go on trips to the city and he takes her to operas and art museums and he is the world to June but now he is dying of some mysterious illness and June has no idea how she will deal with her grief or her life without him.
Then there is a mysterious man at the funeral and a few days later a package shows up with Finn's beautiful teapot and a note from Toby asking to meet her. Toby who was Finn's special "friend" that she knew nothing about but who cared for Finn deeply as well. Toby is nothing like Finn but June senses a kinship with this man who shared much of Finn's life and is also grieving. Together, maybe they can find a way out of their grief through an unexpected friendship.
This book was so lovely in its heartbreaking way. We start knowing quickly that Finn is going to die and so many of us have been there that it's not hard to put yourself in those shoes. I was 15 years old when my grandmother died and I thought my entire world had just about ended. My family was supportive but it was different than this and I wish I had someone who really got what she had meant to me, like Toby and June do for each other. Maybe this book spoke to me so much because I can easily see so much of myself in June too. Simply told but powerfully felt.
I'll admit that I wasn't expecting much: a period piece set in the '80s at a point where the AIDS epidemic was rampant and the general public (and the U.S. government) were alternating between sticking their heads in the sand and paranoia.
But in Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt handles the era and the subject matter and a plot that involves multigenerational sibling relationships and their associated complications in such a deft manner that she makes it look easy. Every character is so well written that they leap off the page and if you can get through this novel without sobbing hysterically (and likely more than once), my hat is off to you.
Having lived through that era and been a teen in that era and lost friends to AIDS in that era, I can assure you that this book is like a full-blown immersion into the past and so wonderfully written I wish I could experience it again for the first time. Probably one of my top two books I've read this year.
I really enjoyed the way this story was written, especially where Finn's paintings were concerned and how June deals with the revelation about her relationship with her uncle and his boyfriend, Toby, who is also dying of AIDS. There was one scene where I found myself flashing back to the news headlines about Ryan White and the hysteria that he and his family had to endure. Brunt also depicted the public's conception and reaction to the emergence of this disease without being overly dramatic or sensational.
Brunt did a great job of tying everything together at the end. I look forward to reading her next book.