tell the wolves i’m home

 

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seen at wellesley books, summer 2016.

tell the wolves i’m home

author: carol rifka brunt

goodreads summary:

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.

i don’t know where to start. all i can say is that tell the wolves i’m home is a lovely, lovely book, and the best i have read in a long time. the novel is full of smooth, poetic prose, beautiful and not overdone. i won’t include any excerpts here, but i will tell you that there are many – too many – that are quote-worthy, and that you should read this book. there are vibrant characters and an engrossing story overshadowed by certain realistic issues that can’t be ignored.

i can relate to june. i can relate to her passion for her interests, her loneliness, and what she thinks is “wrong love, embarrassing love.” the characters are so alive. not just june, who matures naturally throughout the book, or toby, finn’s lover. the sister dynamic between june and greta is so real that the tension leading up to their reconciliation punched me in the gut. i loved their relationship, and its ups and downs, the most. and june’s parents are there as well, developed and fleshed out and not cardboard caricatures at all. even ben dellahunt, who takes an interest in june, has his own life and hobbies outside of june’s story. and toby. toby is my favorite character. he’s seemingly ordinary and drab, but is actually amazing in his own quiet way. he has golden hands, and can make all sorts of what he calls his “fiddly-hand things.” i wish there had been more focus on toby and finn’s relationship before finn’s death because they seemed to be so happy and in love – i want to know more. finn seems to come alive, too, through june’s flashbacks and stories told by toby and june’s mother. i loved how finn and june always listened to mozart’s requiem, and how it only added to the beautiful closeness they shared. toby and june first come together and bond over memories of finn, then slowly move on to cherish each other as themselves, and not as extensions of their first love. june’s revelation about her relationship with toby was just another stab to the heart, along with everything else that happens in this book. there are so many fine details here, mixed with emotions and truths that the characters learn to accept by the end.

it took me a day to read this book, and i was an emotional wreck when i finished. it is now one of my absolute favorites. this review doesn’t do the book any justice (so it will probably be edited over time as i try to properly express my thoughts). please, please read it and tell me what you think.

also, please listen to mozart’s requiem while reading. it fits the atmosphere perfectly.

rating: 5/5 stars.

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