Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Paperback, 355 pages

Published June 2012 by PanMacmillan
My Rating – 4 stars

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is Carol Rifka Brunt’s extraordinary, literary debut novel set in New York in 1987.  Narrated by 14 year old June Elbus, this is an engaging coming of age story filled with the highs and lows of family life.  June is a bit of a nerd and doesn’t quite fit in with her peers but she does have a  special link with her Uncle Finn, the famous but  now reclusive artist.  When Finn dies, far too young, June discovers that she was not the centre of his universe but she shared that limelight with Toby, Finn’s “special” friend.

As the story  unfolds, June gradually gets to know Toby but she is still torn apart  by jealousy, a bitter envy of the close relationship Toby had with Finn.  Ironically her obsession has left her oblivious to how envious her older sister Greta is of her closeness to Finn.  June’s mother has mixed emotions about her brother, Finn for reasons which will eventually become clearer as the story progresses but the author doesn’t tie everything up neatly, after all, family relationships are rarely straightforward.

I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful tale of a family coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.  I’d forgotten how prehistoric some people’s attitudes to AIDS were when it first hit the news headlines, indeed some folk have still not moved on!   June’s mother seems convinced that Toby killed Finn by giving him the AIDS virus but this is just another example of the mass hysteria which surrounded AIDS in the early days.  The parents seem well-meaning but they work ridiculously long hours and June and Greta are left to their own devices most of the time – a recipe for disaster.

Each  character is far from perfect, even the revered Finn whose very absence haunts the novel, even June, the misunderstood teen, who acknowledges that she has ulterior motives for some of her seemingly selfless actions.  This is a beautifully written, slow moving story which needs to be savoured rather than rushed – a very impressive debut.

Click here for the opportunity to access a free download of the first 10 chapters of Tell the Wolves I’m Home from Pan Macmillan.

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8 Comments

  1. This is one of my favourites of 2012. I loved the way all the characters were so well drawn. Glad you’ve been able to read it.

  2. admin says:

    It was a great read, hoping it receives plenty of interest when the paperback comes out.

  3. Marie says:

    Oooh, thanks for this – I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews of this book but I’m just not sure whether it’s for me, the plotline just doesn’t grab me, you know? I’ve downloaded the sample extract so now I can get a better idea of whether I’ll enjoy it. It’s so great of Pan Macmillan to put that up!

    Marie

  4. JoAnn says:

    This one is on my wish list – it sounds like a book I’m going to love. Your cover is much more attractive than the US version.

  5. Lindsay says:

    One of my books of the year, really glad you enjoyed it too Treez :)

  6. Teresa says:

    Hopefully it will lots of awards, Lindsay. It certainly deserves recognition.

  7. Attitudes to AIDS in the 80s and 90s definitely were shocking. I’m glad some people at least have managed to move past them!
    This sounds like a really good read, I’ve added it to my wishlist :)

  8. Teresa says:

    I think you’ll enjoy it, Sam. It’s a very honest book.

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