November 23, 2012
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
No one is more important in June Elbus life than her Uncle Finn. Not only is he the 14-year-old’s God father, he is quite simply the one person who gets her through and through.
Finn is an artist and his last project will be a portrait of June and her sister Greta. They’re sure it will be his last because he is dying and in 1987 there is no treatment for AIDS.
June wishes the painting would go on forever, not just because she loves Finn but also because it is now the only time they get to spend together. Once the pair roamed New York City, taking in the art at the Cloisters, music, medieval festivals and more. But as Finn gets sicker and sicker he can do less and less. The one thing that never fades is his love for his niece.
Only after Finn’s death does June meet Toby who misses Finn even more than she does. Through her friendship with Toby, she learns about her Uncle, her parents and sister and, most importantly, about herself.
I can’t tell much more about this story without giving it all away. I listened to it as an audio book and I’m actually not sure which would be better — listening or reading. This is a total tear jerker — not because it is so sad, although it is, but because it is so achingly beautiful in so many ways. Brunt had created a novel that mirrors the haunting qualities of much of the art, musical and plastic, that June and her uncle shared with each other.
This isn’t an AIDS story in spite of the impact that AIDS has on the story line and the characters. It is a story about living and loving, about the self we present to others and the one we keep safe for those we trust most. A moving, meaningful book that teens will love for the emotional honesty Brunt brings to life even as she shows how those we love leave a little bit of themselves in our hearts, souls and minds.