I would so love to write an eloquent and celebratory review of this glorious book but I’m crying so hard I can’t see my screen. Seriously. THIS BOOK. I am in awe of it’s amazingness. I want to wallpaper my house with it’s cover art. I want to marry it and have it’s babies. I’ve just finished and I already want to read it again! And this is Carol Rifka Brunt’s DEBUT NOVEL. Hearty applause! Honestly, I have been rendered utterly speechless and this is a hard review to write. But I’ll attempt it anyways if only to spread the word about this extraordinary book.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home tells the story of the tremendously well written June. She is 14 and it’s the 1980s. She’s weird, introverted, and prefers wandering the woods and imagining she is a maiden of the middle ages to hanging with friends or going to parties. She has always felt that no one understands her; her parents are never home and her relationship with her older sister Greta is strained at best. No one except for her uncle Finn, that is. He is the light at the end of her tunnel of awkward teen angst, he and he alone has taken the time to get to know her and encourage her in all her endeavors. Unfortunately for June, Finn dies of AIDS in the beginning of the story and sends her into an absolute tailspin. She then finds herself slowly coming to terms with her loss through an unlikely friendship with the man her uncle left behind, despite the fact that her entire family loathes him and blames him for Finn’s illness and death.
June is a very compelling protagonist who is struggling to learn more about the uncle she loved while simultaneously trying to find her place in the world. Brunt has done a wonderful job in bringing June to life. At first pass she sounds like the run of the mill angsty teen that has wriggled her way into the majority of YA novels, but June stands head and shoulders (and waist and knees and ankles) above the rest of the horde. She is believable, unsure but at the same time confident, strong without resorting to sarcasm or bossiness, introverted but willing to reach out to new friends. In all honesty she has been exquisitely crafted. And not only did Brunt perfect the development of June, but Greta, Toby and Finn are all well rounded and believable (and loveable!) as characters. The highly emotional nature of this story initially made me think it would be overdone and ridiculous, but it is actually told in a very light-hearted and engaging way. It was incredibly moving from start to finish without being too over the top and I just can’t rave about it enough ♥♥♥♥♥