1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
Pages: 384 (paperback)
Publisher: Published June 4th 2013 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published June 19th 2012)
Rating: 10 out of 10
Source: Checked out of the library
Date Completed: December 29, 2013
When I first heard the premise of Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, I was not sure if I would enjoy the book. Two members of the book club advocated passionately for it and I trust their tastes. After the first paragraph, I was immediately sucked into the story. There are so many layers in the book-- to the characters, the individual connections, the huge AIDS epidemic unfolding in the background, and a girl becoming a woman.
Greta was the character I found the most confusing and frustrating, but the one I grew to like the most. Seeing her relationship with June unfold was really good. I feel like it is cheating to say that I like June because how could you not like a character who is grappling with what she has been told versus what she believes. Another thing the book illustrated was how people with AIDS were demonized and the subtle (and not so subtle) ways June confronts and copes with this; specifically, I am thinking about the bank scene and a conversation she has with a police officer.
Each time I returned to the book, I was excited to find out what happened next. I read a lot of really great books this year, but this one is certainly a favorite.