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Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel

Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel

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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Wall Street Journal • O: The Oprah Magazine • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews • Booklist • School Library Journal   NAMED A FAVORITE READ BY GILLIAN FLYNN   WINNER OF THE ALEX AWARDIn this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.   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.   An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.Praise for Tell the Wolves I’m Home   “A dazzling debut novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine   “This compassionate and vital novel will rivet readers until the very end. . . . The narrative is as tender and raw as an exposed nerve, pulsing with the sharpest agonies and ecstasies of the human condition.”—BookPage   “Tremendously moving.”—The Wall Street Journal   “Transcendent . . . Peopled by characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt’s novel is a beautifully bittersweet mixture of heartbreak and hope.”—Booklist (starred review)   “Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune   “Touching and ultimately hopeful.”—PeopleLook for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Wall Street Journal • O: The Oprah Magazine • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews • Booklist • School Library Journal   NAMED A FAVORITE READ BY GILLIAN FLYNN   WINNER OF THE ALEX AWARDIn this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.   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.   An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.Praise for Tell the Wolves I’m Home   “A dazzling debut novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine   “This compassionate and vital novel will rivet readers until the very end. . . . The narrative is as tender and raw as an exposed nerve, pulsing with the sharpest agonies and ecstasies of the human condition.”—BookPage   “Tremendously moving.”—The Wall Street Journal   “Transcendent . . . Peopled by characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt’s novel is a beautifully bittersweet mixture of heartbreak and hope.”—Booklist (starred review)   “Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune   “Touching and ultimately hopeful.”—PeopleLook for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

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Publish date: Jun 4, 2013
Added to Scribd: Aug 22, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved
List Price: $15.00

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03/13/2014

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raven9167 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
A simply fantastic coming of age novel. I think that adolescents experience emotions more powerfully sometimes than adults do, and the feeling of grief is no exception. In June Elbus, the reader finds a girl who doesn't fit in with the rest of the world but really doesn't care, in part because her individualism has been encouraged and nourished by her equally loner-type uncle Finn. Finn is really the only person June would count as a friend and someone who truly understands her, and thus his death from AIDS steals away the anchor of her teenage life. But when she finds out about a "friend" of her uncle's who she never knew about but nevertheless seemingly knows all about her, June starts on a path to try and come to grips with her loss and better understand her relationships with her parents and especially her sister, Greta.

The author nails the sibling dynamic between Greta and June perfectly, and creates nice symmetry to this relationship through June's mother and Finn's similar give-and-take (although we are only told about Finn and June's mother). There were so many parts of this book that just resonate so deeply from the heart that it's impossible to not feel your own life through it. Everyone has lost, and everyone has struggled to find a way to move on (as one characters asks "But where would we move to?"). But more than just the story of loss is the story of trying to make peace with your family and the secrets they carry. There's a saying out there of some sort about "always be nice to your siblings because they're the only ones who will be there through the long haul of your entire life" and that is certainly something this novel tries to grapple with.

I truly felt like June was a pretty original teenage girl who matures a lot through the book, and I could see June in my memories of girls from my adolescence.

Honestly, I just really, really loved the book.
sparkleponies reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Enjoyed this book as I had no idea where the characters were going. It is intense for a younger teen but might be a good book for older teens. Is told from the 14-year old point of view of its' character June who is struggling with the death of a favorite uncle, his relationship with her sister and the disease her uncle died from.
satyridae reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Sometimes one reads a book at precisely the proper time. And sometimes one reads a book and the proper time doesn't matter, nothing at all matters except the book and the self and the ways the two merge and tumble and meld. This book was like that for me.

Brunt evokes an era of uncertainty and fear with precision and a haunting nostalgia and then paints a complex and nuanced story on top of that background. It's so well-done that one falls in, rapt.

There are no perfect people herein. In fact, there's nobody to really like- but oh, there are people with whom one can identify. The writing is powerful, the prose is beautiful and the story, oh, the story is so real. So true. So hard.

One could call it a coming-of-age story, and that's probably closest to a capsule description. It's more than the story of how June finds out, at least a little bit, who June is. And who she is in relation to her sister, to her parents, to her recently dead uncle. It's many layers deeper than that.

So very well done it's hard to grasp that it's a first novel.

ETA:
You know how, this time of year, sometimes you see that certain slant of light hitting a gnarled old tree, and each leaf is illuminated and different from every other leaf and the whole thing glows like the end of the world? That's what this book is.
aelizabethj reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Speechless. This novel wrecked me. I literally had to lie down on the floor of my bedroom and just... process. This book was so achingly beautiful, I can't even begin to put it into words. My heart hurts. June and Finn, Toby and Greta, every single character is so lovingly fleshed out, NYC is a beautiful backdrop.... I'm quite disappointed I read this on my Nook, because I want a concrete copy in my hands, something I can hug. Absolutely brilliant, one of my favorite books of all time. Five stars, pure love.
saretta7l reviewed this
Rated 5/5
"Tell the wolves I'm home" parla di come si vorrebbe possedere ogni istante della persona amata, di come bisogna condividerla con altri e di come restano solo i ricordi quando veniamo lasciati soli.

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"Tell the wolves I'm home" is about wanting to possess every istant of the loved one life, the fact that this is impossible since we have to share that life with other people and how memories are the only things left when we are left alone.
samchan_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a pretty impressive debut novel by Brunt, so kudos to her. I was very close to falling in love with this book as I zipped through all of it in one day. I liked the sound of the premise from the start, examining a friendship between two people drawn together due to a loss of their loved one to AIDS during the 1980s, when most people did not know that much about it.

The story captures the inner life of the young 14-year protagonist in a wonderfully sensitive and authentic way. Nothing she does--even secretly meeting a stranger by herself--ever feels unrealistic or contrived. The memories she and Toby have of the dead Finn are heartbreaking, and so is the tender friendship that she and Toby develop. They're two lost souls who provide each other with an anchor in their lonely world after that death. And even though that previous sentence that I just typed sounds cheesy as hell, that's what the story did to me: it made me feel all earnest and cheesy in a good way!

As I said, it was close to being a great book. But then in the last 70 pages, the story started crumbling. This last part bumped it down to 3 stars for me. These were the problems that I had in the end:

--Characters' actions became unconvincing, like why June couldn't just tell her parents about how worried she is for Greta's safety at the end. It was too much to believe that in what seemed like a life and death situation, she wouldn't tell her parents but call Toby instead. It just reeked too much of a contrivance to get Toby into the action and propel the plot towards his getting sick from the rain, etc.

--I never really got the sisters storyline. Greta was just the stereotypical mean older sister. A lot of her petulant, cruel behavior was puzzling, and maybe this confusion was meant to reflect how June also didn't understand Greta's behavior. Once we got to the end, and Greta explains why she acted the way she did, I was left with the feeling that the author could've done better in weaving this theme of sibling jealousy more effectively throughout the book. The "signs" that the author tried to convey throughout the book just didn't amount to much. When the tension between the sisters came to a head, I wasn't convinced that I should really care about this part and not feel impatient to get back to the "real" story of June and Toby. It seems like I'm in the minority here. A lot Goodreads reviews--even the ones that ranked the book pretty low--found that the sisters' relationship was a high point of the story.

--I can accept that June deeply loved her uncle, that it was a strong adoration and adulation. Why couldn't the story keep it subtle like it did for most of the book? Instead, it had to be so explicit (in that Toby confronted her and made her say it aloud). Was it really necessary that she had to declare that her uncle was her first love and that she thought she felt a romantic love? Sorry, but even when I tried to rationalize it by thinking that June's love was the pure love of a child (just like when people say that little girls always have crushes on their fathers or whatever), I still found it a wee bit disturbing, and the fact that June was self-aware enough to mention that it was gross, didn't make it any less weird.
chrisblocker reviewed this
Rated 5/5
What a marvelous and beautiful book.

There is considerable talent in the way the author orchestrates this work. You don't really realize how everything is going to tie together eventually and make you understand how gorgeous human love can be and how stupid our constraints are.

“But what if you ended up in the wrong kind of love?” Julia asks. “What if you accidentally ended up in the falling kind with someone it would be so gross to fall in love with that you could never tell anyone in the world about it? … The kind you squashed deeper and deeper down, but no matter how far you pushed it, no matter how much you hoped it would suffocate, it never did?”

I don't know the last time I got misty-eyed over a book, but Tell the Wolves I'm Home did that for me. And yet it never was overly sentimental or preachy; it walked that line exceptionally well. It's a wonderful debut and I sincerely hope it is listed on many of the end of the year lists. It is a deserving novel, a story that has finally been told with the grace and attention it is entitled to.
vsnunez reviewed this
Rated 4/5
A terrific novel for any age, although marketed as YA. There are some truly excellent images and allusions the author makes in her writing. A particularly good one, perhaps great, occurs when June realizes, about two-thirds along the story, how making choices in life affects everything to come later. I don't know when I've seen it done better. The story conveys well the fear many of us had about AIDS in the 1980s, largely through ignorance, but it was palpable; we just didn't know, and it was frightening, terrifying, as friends and family faced unexpected doom, and we all had to watch, helplessly. The courageous faced it, as they always do, by just being human and loving those who suffered as best as possible. Perhaps it's not always so, but it seems to be often enough.
bethiepaige_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Have you ever finished a book and wanted more?
That was me with Tell the Wolves I'm Home. I loved this book way more than I thought I would and I'm so glad I decided to read it.
I don't think I've ever felt so connected to a character. I felt like I was feeling everything she was feeling. It seemed so real. Everything, every reaction was the realistic outcome which is what helped in creating this connection.

As Brunt's debut novel, I am definitely looking forward to further novels.

Just amazing! Definitely recommend :)
christianr_899499 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
A highly regarded novel of 2012, this would be a very good adult novel to recommend to teens. It's about a 14-year-old girl in the 1980s whose uncle dies of AIDS shortly into the book. June and Finn were extremely close, but she learns after his death that he had a live-in lover who she had not been allowed to meet or even hear about because her mother blamed the lover for Finn's death. Add in June's rocky relationship with her older sister Greta, both of their first steps into drinking, and Finn's lover's attempts to befriend June and it turns out that June has a lot of growing up to do in the novel. This book is especially valuable as a period piece of the emergence of AIDS and its uncomfortable connection to homosexuality when homosexuality was rarely spoken of.

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