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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on nabari no ou

personal accomplishment: i’ve never had a naruto phase.

that being said, nabari no ou is also a manga series about ninjas. it’s one of my all-time favorites. a long time ago back in 2012, a girl named katie was creating character bios for her first nanowrimo. while searching for suitable images on google, she came across this picture. thus began her nabari no ou phase, which continues to this day.

From mangafox:

Set in the modern age, the story is about Miharu Rokujou, who just wants to live a normal life and inherit an Okonomiyaki restaurant. At the moment, his biggest problem is the constant pestering from Kouichi Aizawa and Durandal Thobari Kumohira, who started a Nindō (忍道?, lit. “Way of the Ninja”) Club. Miharu wants nothing to do with “ninjas” and turns them down every time. But soon, he is attacked by an actual group of ninjas and is protected by Kouichi and Kumohira. There, Miharu learns of the hidden ninja world Nabari, the roles of his classmate and teacher in that world, and of the secret art Shinra Banshou (森羅万象 Shinrabanshō?, lit. “all things in nature”) within him. The secret art, containing all the world’s knowledge, is sorely coveted in Nabari. And because of that, Miharu cannot return to his normal life. He must become the “Ruler of Nabari” to survive.

a lot of people dislike nabari no ou after reading the first volume, mainly because of the rough, ‘weird’ art and miharu’s apathetic nature. please read the entire series before jumping to any conclusions or dropping the series!
(the anime’s first half is good, but it then spirals downward into ridiculous cheesiness because the manga was still ongoing at the time. so skip the anime and read the manga. or, if you must, watch the anime first, then read the manga. the latter does a much better job with fleshing out characters, tying up loose ends, etc. or, read the manga while listening to the anime’s soundtracks.
but anyway.)
the story follows miharu rokujou, who seems to be the typical indifferent junior high school student. but then there’s a plethora of other characters too, who’re all tied to the shirabanshou. the beginning is humorous, filled with the antics of miharu and his interactions with tobari-sensei, his english teacher, and kouichi aizawa, a fellow classmate. everything feels all light and slice-of-life ish. raimei shimizu only adds to this new camaraderie that’s soon tested by hostility surrounding the shirabanshou. miharu is blackmailed into using the shirabanshou by the enemy clan’s main weapon – the kira user ninja, yoite. the story soon branches out and plunges downward, throwing off all its readers. what happened to the school life fluffiness? (refer to anime’s opening theme, ‘crawl.’) the manga goes from carefree to frighteningly dark and twisted. there’s a huge cast of characters that range from ninjas to samurai to a blind mastermind to an intersexed character and more. everyone in the story is important in some way, even side characters  there is no black-and-white sense of good versus evil, which is another part of this story that i love. miharu no longer knows who to trust. who is the enemy? who is the ally? who really accepts him for who he is? who befriends him for the shirabanshou? and talk about CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. and REALLY AMAZING ART. as the chapters progress, yuhki kamatani’s art style slowly changes and morphs into the style she’s known for today. it’s really beautiful. everything about this manga is beautiful.
my favorite characters are yoite and miharu. at first, there’s a lot of tension between them. yoite is the angel of death, after all. he forces miharu to use the shirabanshou for his one and only wish, and the two work together to collect the forbidden arts of nabari to unlock the shirabanshou inside him. throughout the story, however, yoite and miharu gradually grow close, and we see that yoite isn’t an angel of death at all, though he firmly believes that. miharu begins to leave his shell of indifference and trust others again, too…
i ship them. i most definitely ship yoite and miharu. ;-;
and talk about that art. afdkhqgdwl;afgjwakj ((here are just a few examples of the loveliness to come))
~score: 5/5 stars. so many feels.~