BOOK STEW REVIEW: Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifta Brunt

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it:

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt 

This is an unforgettable mashup between a YA and an early AIDS novel. The formerly fierce friendship of sisters Greta and June falls apart when Greta, the elder, starts middle school, and June turns to her godfather and uncle, renowned artist Finn, for companionship and then, an actual real and painful crush. Greta, younger than her school peers and a raging mass of jealousy, makes everything worse at home for June, a friendless loner. When Finn gets sick, he paints one last portrait of Greta and June, which is discovered and treasured by the art world after his death. When Finn dies, his sister Danielle, June and Greta’s mom, blames the man in the blue car who shows up uninvited at the funeral and calls him a murderer. He is Toby, Finn’s lover, who has been kept secret from the sisters at Danielle’s insistence. He reaches out to June, who responds, despite the mid-1980s fear of catching AIDS by sitting next to someone who has it. The portrait itself functions almost like a character in the plot. Every family secret and grievance, even the ones going back to Danielle and Finn’s childhood, and the details of Finn and Toby’s meeting, rings true and June is an impressive heroine for all time.

Quote: “It’s the most unhappy people who want to stay alive, because they think they haven’t done everything they want to do. They think they haven’t had enough time. They feel like they’ve been shortchanged.”

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