“Tell the Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka-Brunt
Review by Pam Zamory, adult services library assistant, Hillsborough branch
This coming-of-age story takes place in 1980s Westchester, N.Y. June Elba, at 14, is infatuated with her beloved Uncle Finn, who is gay and unfortunately dying of a mysterious new illness called AIDS. June and Uncle Finn are as thick as thieves, so she feels a little lost when he succumbs to the disease leaving her grieving and alone. Cue the odd man that June spies at her uncle’s funeral. A few days later a mysterious package and note arrives from Toby, the guy from the funeral. Toby turns out to be Uncle Finn’s secret partner of nine years. June and Toby decide to meet each other and form a surprising friendship. As they spend more and more time together, June comes to the realization that she’s not the only one who misses her uncle and June and Toby help each other heal.
“Maybe I was destined to forever fall in love with people I couldn’t have. Maybe there’s a whole assortment of impossible people waiting for me to find them. Waiting to make me feel the same impossibility over and over again.” – June Elba
Author Carol Rifka Brunt is a masterful storyteller. Her literary debut was on the “New York Times” bestseller list, and won several awards. “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” is a real page turner of sibling rivalry, family secrets, grief, and love. It is a thoughtful recollection of a time of fear and ignorance during the beginning of the AIDS crisis, as well as a study of family dynamics. I highly recommend this novel, but keep the tissues handy at the end since it will bring on a good cry. On a scale of one to five I would have to give it the elusive five-star rating. This book will be remembered for a long time to come.
Since this is the author’s only novel. Here are some read-alikes: