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  • ISBN-13: 9780679644194
  • ISBN-10: 0679644199

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-04-02
  • Reviewer: Staff

In Brunt’s sentimental debut novel, 15-year-old June must come to terms with the death of her beloved uncle Finn, an artist, from AIDS in 1980s New York. As she struggles with his death and her own grief, June secretly befriends her uncle’s mysterious lover, Toby, blamed by her parents for Finn’s death. What begins as a wary relationship between former rivals for Finn’s affection blossoms touchingly. Though June gradually uncovers the conflicts between her mother and uncle, she faces adolescent problems as well (sibling rivalry, boys, parties). A wrenching climax finds June’s family threatening to uncover her secret relationship with the ailing Toby. Though Brunt’s approach to AIDS and homosexuality is bold, her novel is mostly an extended meditation on “all the meanness that could come out of loving someone too much.” The plot is never dull, and the convincing emotional climaxes, while overwrought, are appropriate for a narrator of June’s age. Though the book has young adult–novel qualities, with moral conflicts that resolve themselves too easily and characters nursing hearts of gold, there’s enough ambiguity and subtlety to interest a wider audience. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (June)

BookPage Reviews

Growing through the grief

Carol Rifka Brunt’s astonishing first novel is so good, there’s no need to grade on a curve: Tell the Wolves I’m Home is not only one of the best debuts of 2012, it’s one of the best books of the year, plain and simple. It’s the story of 14-year-old June Elbus, a quirky outcast fiercely attached to her uncle Finn, a famous painter who is dying of AIDS. It is only with Finn that June can unload her deepest desires and fears, so when Finn dies and June discovers his own cache of secrets, the bottom drops out of her world. Questioning everything she has ever known, June will risk all that she has—even losing her uncle all over again—to discover the man Finn truly was and to become the young woman only Finn could see.

In a literary landscape overflowing with coming-of-age stories, Tell the Wolves I’m Home rises above the rest. The narrative is as tender and raw as an exposed nerve, pulsing with the sharpest agonies and ecstasies of the human condition. Exploring the very bones of life—love, loss and family—this compassionate and vital novel will rivet readers until the very end, when all but the stoniest will be moved to tears. If Brunt has managed to produce this stunning novel on her first attempt, there is no telling just how far her star will rise. The smart money says the sky’s the limit.

BAM Customer Reviews