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. 

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