My heart is bursting right now!! This book...this book....this book...
I'm having a very hard time articulating what my thoughts are about it. They are indescribable.
"Tell the Wolves I'm Home" is a coming of age story told by a 13-year-old girl June. She had just lost her uncle Finn to AIDS and the story follows her trying to overcome her grief and trying to come to terms with not only her complicated feelings towards her uncle but also with herself.
Every single character is beautifully layered and constructed. We have June, this little girl who is honest, melancholic, jealous, selfish, imaginative and trustworthy. Then we have Toby, the guy for whom my heart broke again and again and again. He is the guy who suffered more than anyone because of other people's mistakes and actions. He is the guy who tries to understand and the guy who you can call at midnight or talk without saying nothing at all. After Toby comes Uncle Finn, who technically isn't a character as much as a memory but becomes one through Toby and June's recollections. And through them you come to love Uncle Finn too. Next we have Greta, June's older sister with whom June had a complicated relationship. Greta, the girl who seemed to have all her future mapped out, the popular one, the one who makes her parents proud and the one who suffers so much inside. And finally, we got June and Greta's parents that even though are secondary characters are portrayed as carefully as they were the main ones.
The relationships between June and her uncle Finn, between Toby and Finn, between June and Greta, between the girls and their parents but especially between June and Toby where the gems of this book. The story is ordinary, plain but the characters and their interactions are what made this book so special.
Now because I can't contain myself, I'll share some of my favorite quotes and passages from the book:
"So tell me, Miss Elbus, what fascinates you about the Middle Ages?"
I crossed my arms over my chest and gave him a look.
"No. Really," he said in his normal voice. "I want to know."
It was the question that made me go completely dumb. I almost thought about pretending I hadn't heard it, but I knew he'd try again. My brain flickered past all the possible answers. Castles; knights; dark; candlelit nights; Gregorian chants; and dresses that came right down to your feet. Books that had to be copied out by hand and decorated by monks in the most beautiful colors. Books that were illuminated so they glowed.
"Maybe....I don't know... Maybe it's just that people didn't know everything then. There were things people had never seen before. Places nobody had ever been. You could make up a story and people would believe it. You could believe in dragons and saints. You could look around at plants and think that maybe they could save your life."
I'd been staring at the rug the whole time, because I had a reeling I wasn't making any sense and Toby might be laughing at me. But when I glanced up, I saw he wasn't. He was nodding.
"I like that," he said.
"Really?" I watched Toby to see if he really meant it and, when I was convinced that he did, I went on. "And, well, also maybe it seems like it would okay not to be perfect. Nobody was perfect back then. Just about everyone was defective, and most people had no choice except to stay that way."
"We stood there under that awning until I could feel he was crying too. The click of Toby's mint against his teeth, and the high squeal of car brakes, and the rain plinking on the canvas over our heads all joined with our low deep sobs to make a kind of music that afternoon. It turned the whole city into a chorus of our sadness, and after a while it almost stopped feeling bad and turned into something else. It started to feel like relief."
I thought how there was a kind of power in being needed. In having a purpose. I could feel it hardening up my bones and thickening my blood. I felt older and smarter than anyone else I knew. I could do anything, anything at all."
You don't need sex for that king of thing to happen. For your body to forget how to hell if it's hungry or not. For your to mistake someone else's hunger for your own."
See how alluring and appealing is the writing? I swear, Carol Rifka Brunt can write about the most random thing and make it look like you're reading something special. See how intricate is Toby and June's relationship? How delicate?!?
And after some pages there is a passage where my heart completely melts but I guess it's kind of a spoiler and plus I have to keep some things away otherwise I will end up writing down all the book. I will just say the passage is when Toby and June are in the basement and June looks at Finn's paintings.
Here is one of my top three favorite passage(and the last one I'm going to share here):
It seemed like life was a sort of narrowing tunnel. Right when you were born, the tunnel was huge. You could be anything. Then, like, the absolute second after you were born, the tunnel narrowed down to about half the size. You were a boy, and already certain you wouldn't be a mother and it was likely you wouldn't become a manicurist or a kindergarten teacher. Then you started to grow up and everything you did closed the tunnel in some more. You broke your arm climbing a tree and you ruled out being a baseball pitcher. You failed every math test that you ever took and you canceled any hope of being a scientist. Like that. On and on through the years until you were struck. You'd become a baker or a librarian or a bartender. Or an accountant. And there you were. I figured that on the day you died, the tunnel would be so narrow, you'd have squeezed yourself in with so many choices, that you just got squashed.
And with that my friends I urge to read Tell The Wolves I'm Home ASAP!!