The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tell The Wolves I’m Home

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Yesterday, I finished reading Tell The Wolves I’m Home (A) by Carol Rifka Brunt and I can’t get it out of my head. A million thoughts, images and questions are begging to be deciphered.

Fourteen-year old June Elbus has just lost her “first love” her Uncle Finn. It’s the early 80’s and Finn has died from the newly identified and mysterious disease called AIDS.  She must come to terms with his death and find her place in life without him.  The day of Finn’s funeral, a man in a blue car is spotted.  Danni, June’s mother becomes extremely upset by this and directs her husband to be sure that he isn’t allowed to attend.  He is referred to as “Uncle Finn’s murderer” leaving June baffled by the reference.

As June narrates the story, we learn that she believes herself to be friendless, odd and unloved by everyone except Uncle Finn.  She wants to unravel all the mysteries and secrets regarding his life; secrets everyone seems to know but her.  In the process, she develops a warm and loving (but secret) relationship with Uncle Finn’s “special friend”.  Finn’s last wishes are that Toby should take care of June and that June care for Toby “because he has nobody”. To do this at fourteen is monumental.

This book is rich in symbolism (all of which I’m struggling to identify). It is set in Westchester and New York City around many familiar landmarks. It captures the fears and stigma that were born from AIDS.

Very simply, I love this book. It is beautifully written with fast moving chapters and heart wrenching events that several times brought me to tears. It is going to linger with me for sometime. I anticipate a great book discussion.

 

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