Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Dial Press | Trade paperback, 327 pages
July 4th, 2013
Young Adult | LGBT | Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

At a time when AIDS is a disease the world was just waking up to, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is the story of a fourteen-year-old girl coping with the recent death of her most-beloved uncle. A painfully shy girl who’d had to live in a world where everything that was good reminded her of him. On the surface, you’ll wonder how someone would take his death so hard. But see? You need to understand the relationship between uncle and niece. What June felt for Finn was a love deeper than what nature dictates. On Finn’s side, I would even go as far as to say he considered her as his daughter. However, that’s only adding more confounding elements to what’s already a muddied emotional bond June has with her uncle. 

It is about grief, and finding the means to transform the debilitating heartache into something positive and well meaning. So she shifted her focus onto Toby, a mysterious man who knew her uncle Finn better than she knew him. The story culminates into a love just as profound; she would learn to accept the many facets of love, and find comfort in the thought that love is something that can’t be defined. 

This is one of those few novels that had rendered me speechless. It explored a love that was both forbidden and against the law. There wasn’t anything physically immoral that happened, but June’s feeling toward her uncle was scandalous just the same. Towards the end, June realized that it was possible to love two men just as equally. It’s still a love that’s difficult to explain, however.  It’s one of the best things about this book: the innocence of June’s perspective and how she sees the world was quite inspirational. Though it was tainted by what she’d had to accept about AIDS, her detachment as she told her story makes for a sometimes unsettling honesty. 

It took me to an era where AIDS was feared as the Black Plague. It introduced me to a girl who was every bit courageous as she was scared. She let the world run her over; tell her the only person who thought her worthy was her uncle, and when he died there was no one else. 

This is an emotional book; where a reader would be defenseless against the onslaught of feelings the characters would provoke. It’s a book full of lonely people trying to live life the best they can; trying to ignore the gaping hole left by a person that the readers would only know posthumously. And even though he was dead, his presence overwhelmed the pages of the novel. 

June does not have a typical young adult voice; it wasn’t wrought with all the pains of growing up. The aloofness about her was a choice, and certainly not one that she held a grudge against the world. This distance was prevalent as she told her story. But for once, I wasn’t pushed further away from her plight. 

Finn’s story could make your tears roll down your face unaided, Toby’s story would make you howl at the sadness of it all. Theirs is a story that lasted years, and yet seemingly unfinished. There was so much love that simply couldn’t fit in one measly book. 

  • What a heartbreaking story but one I actually think I could do. I love how different it sounds and I love how it explores something so real and deep. Thanks for your review and bringing this one to my attention.

  • I've started reading your review and then I stopped – not because your review is bad, it is amazing – that much that I wan to read this for myself.
    So, thank you!:DD

  • I've already told you I love this review…and but here are some more hearts and hugs for you anyway. <3 <3 <3 o o o o


    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  • Heart. Blender. High speed. Yep. 🙂

  • I wasn't ready for it, for sure. But the crying jags was such a good release afterwards. 🙂

  • (hugs) Yeah, you need to be in a certain state of mind and heart.

  • It has its moments. 🙂

  • I know. It's so weird. She tells it like it is, but it sounds funny to coming from her, almost.

  • Thanks, Rachel. I hope you'll get to read it, and I shall be waiting to see what you think of it.

  • You should give it a chance. The LGBT aspect is kind of like Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie. It's not the forefront of the story but it's there.

  • Please do. I really think it's something that no one should pass up. 🙂

  • If you need a good, ugly cry then this book is definitely it.

  • Thanks, Marianne. I hope you'll get to read it someday. It's so wonderful.

  • You definitely read it. It's a lot more than just a tear-jerker read though. But as usual, I'm a bit of a loss for words.

  • Thanks, Lisa.

  • Jas, I can't tell you how much this book decimated me. I'm still smarting from the feels. 🙁

  • It's not for the weak at heart, definitely. I do hope one day, you'll give it a chance.

  • Thanks, Stephanie. I wasn't going to, but my 'feels' needed an outlet. 🙂

  • Thanks, B. It most certainly is. I hope you'll give it a chance.

  • Wonderful review, Joy. I remember when AIDS was first discovered and it was treated like the Black Plague. It was frightening at the time because no one had the facts straight. To love someone who died from it back in this time would be scandalous, if that's what happened here. This sounds like a story that would stir a lot of emotions.

  • I'll be honest: I am totally afraid of this book and the emotions it's going to evoke in me. I got the audio version for $4.95 on sale at the behest of a friend, but I still haven't managed to bring myself to read it. I'm sure that once I do, I'll love it for the story that it is, but I really have to be in the mood for a book such as this. I'm glad to add yet another person to the list of those recommending this novel, though!

  • I don't think I'm quite ready for this book emotionally. I avoid books about loss since I have my own to deal with, but it does sound absolutely gorgeous, and I'll keep it on my list for when the mood strikes. Which it will, eventually.

  • Sounds very intense!

  • Oh wow this sounds like such an amazing book. It's great that there are serious issues considered even though the protagonist is so young. I'll definitely need to read this one this summer!
    Great review, Joy 🙂

  • Wow. Just wow. This sounds gorgeous. I'd always been intrigued by the cover but never read what the book was about or a review of it. This is clearly going to have to be added to my shelves sooner rather than later. Seriously fantastic review, Joy.

  • I've heard of this book but had no interest in reading it. I think your review has changed my mind. It sounds… almost too much but somehow manages to be just right. I didn't know this book was LGBT and I'm intrigued by the AIDS vs Black Plague idea.

  • You've sold me on this one! Surprisingly, this is the first time I've heard it was a LGBT book, don't know how I missed that but it's all the more intriguing now. Gosh, it sounds so emotional, and I love the way you described it. A good book leaves you thinking but a great one stays with you for a long time and I have a feeling this one will! Awesome review 🙂

  • I´ve never heard of this book before, but I want it! it sounds right my alley.
    Great review!

  • This book sounds awesome. I had heard some talk about it before, but wasn't really sure what it was about. I'm glad you reviewed this one, Joy. I definitely want to read it. Great review!

  • Whoa. Sounds like this author did heartbreaking beautifully. I'm very interested in this now, but will have tissues nearby when I read it.

  • This sounds like such an emotional story. Great review!

  • This is such a gorgeous review Joy! You know how much I'm loving heartbreaking reads right now, so this story sounds right up my street. Also I adore books which completely take you by surprised, to be honest, I don't think I would have given this book a go, or even heard of it before your review. So thank you so much for putting it on my radar!

  • Aw, amazing review sweetie. I'm glad you loved this book so much. I'm still not sure if I could handle reading this book. But hopefully someday 😀 It do sound amazing. Sigh. Thank you for sharing and being honest. <3

  • I loved this book, and your review is wonderful, Joy. I didn't attempt to review it, because I just didn't know what to say to do it justice.

  • This sounds so sad and powerful and beautiful. Great review Joy.