Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is yet another YA book that gave me a lump in my throat, just like The Fault in our Stars. What's up with that? Reading never used to make me teary. Is this a symptom of perimenopause??
I think it also has something to do the author's note: "It warms my heart that most of the time the facts of the world would have fit my story just right. But on those occasions where they haven't, I've taken the liberty of tailoring them--as gently as possible--to suit." So--is this autobiographical? The Fault in our Stars had a similar disclaimer. Maybe that's what makes both books feel all too real to me.
Wolves has a 14-year-old narrator, June, a social misfit whose only true friend is her uncle, the artist Finn Weiss. But it's 1987, and Finn is dying of a newly discovered, not-much-talked-about disease. At his funeral, a man appears outside the church, much to the consternation of June's mother (Finn's sister). June soon learns more about that man when he reaches out to her and she learns that there was someone else who loved Finn and misses him as much as she does.
There's so much to like about this book. It catches that time period very well. It's a devastating portrait of a family trying to cope with homosexuality and AIDS, and all filtered through June's adolescent lens, but also through a griever's lens. Particularly striking is her relationship with her older sister, Greta, who's a bit of a golden girl. Yet author Brunt manages to describe Greta from June's point of view in such a way that even though Greta often behaves badly and says terrible things to June, and June herself doesn't understand why, the reader does.
In the end, June learns a great deal, about herself, Greta, and her mother and uncle's relationship. These are hard lessons at any time of life, but at age 14, it's even more poignant: "Then I told [Greta] everything I knew about our mother. All the jealousy and sadness. All the meanness that could come out of loving someone too much."
I think I need to create a new category for this blog, labeled "Lump-in-Throat Books".
My thanks to Dial Press for sending me a review copy.