Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Family is important. It’s just June and Greta, the Elbus daughters. Their parents are accountants and life goes on during the late 80’s. Their uncle Finn is an artist and June’s Godfather. He’s painting a portrait of the girls and June adores all time she gets to spend with him, while Greta fidgets. Finn is sick. He’s dying.

Fourteen is too young to lose an uncle, especially to a disease that no one understands. As June’s world fades, a secret from her uncle’s past reaches out to her. There’s a man who was close to Finn, even more than June. She’s torn between wanting to know him and resenting him for all the time he received with her beloved uncle. Unable to move on from her grief, and with others pushing her towards false starts. June turns her back on practicality and takes a leap of faith where no one else is ready to believe.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is emotional and raw. It’s been over twenty years since AIDS caused an uneducated panic and Brunt has brilliantly captured that timeline. She’s also taken the approach of a teenager who loves someone with this disease and refuses to believe where others accept the first thing they hear. June is wise beyond her years, but she does remain essentially a child. Watching her grow through trauma, grief and teenage angst is more powerful than I expected.

The symbolism used throughout the book is stunning and towards the end I was almost in tears. This is a YA crossover at it’s controversial finest. Contemporary and striking you’ll find yourself eager to get back to June. With relatable family struggles this novel will shake your core. YA doesn’t have to be supernatural and full of romance. There can also be a pure coming of age story where love transcends and Brunt has crafted a magical piece of work. 

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