Book Review – Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt
- Book: Tell the Wolves I’m Home
- Author: Carol Rifka Brunt
- Genre: Fiction
- Year of Release: 2012
- Read 361-page hardcover edition in August 2015.
In 1987 New York, fourteen year old June Elbus has never really felt truly comfortable with anyone before, except her uncle Finn. When Finn passes away due to HIV/AIDS, June is devastated, and doesn’t understand how or why this happened. Her mom has always been secretive of her brother Finn’s past, and June’s older sister does not help her to understand what is going on. But when June meets a mysterious man who shows up at Finn’s funeral, it leads to a surprising friendship, where June finally is able to learn more about her uncle, and the true meaning of love, loss, grief, and supporting others through the difficulties of life’s journey.
This novel, in a word, left me stunned. There aren’t many novels that can keep me up well into the night when I have to work early the next morning, but this was definitely one of them. I read this novel in 2 days, and it was an emotional page turner.
The inter-relationships between characters were engaging, complex, and believable. There were many solid examples of great character development and complex relationships between the central characters of June, her uncle Finn, her sister, her father, her mother, and Toby. The dialogue as these characters were developed was written beautifully by the author.
The storyline was dramatic and fast-paced. We continued to learn surprising revelations about various characters as we went through the novel. The author did a wonderful job creating a tense storyline with new plot twists coming up several times throughout the novel, often times in areas the reader was not expecting. At the same time as creating a rapidly unfolding plot, the author did a great job building and developing on characters throughout. The connections between characters continued to develop and added to the depth of the novel.
The usage of art and paintings as a metaphor for elements of the story, such as the relationship between June and her sister, was nicely thought out and a source of uniqueness to the story.
The emotional depth of the novel was far reaching. The main theme of HIV/AIDS was well explored, thoughtful, and heart wrenching. The author captured the climate of the 1980s accurately. However, additional themes were also explored well, including adolescence, grief, feelings associated with being difference and outside the mainstream, and how relationships between siblings change with age. The author did a wonderful job exploring these various themes in a sensitive and commanding way.
The novel was a fabulous example of how an author can pull you into an emotional story with solid characters, exceptional prose, and intelligent plot. Author Carol Rifka Brunt is to be commended for writing an amazing novel that was raw and powerful. This novel made me cry, made me smile, made me think, and the characters and story stayed with me long after. Wow. Well done!
Overall: 5 stars out of 5 stars.