Tell the Wolves I'm Home

( 153 )

Overview

In 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 ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (6) from $5.32   
  • New (1) from $73.00   
  • Used (5) from $5.32   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$73.00
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:

(827)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Brand new and unread! Join our growing list of satisfied customers!

Ships from: Phoenix, MD

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

In 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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

This coming-of-age story reveals the striking pangs and promise of an adolescent girl's fitful awakening to adulthood. For 14-year-old June Elbus, the early death of her beloved uncle, artist Finn Weiss, blotted her world. When, shortly after the funeral, she was approached by another friend of the painter, she took comfort in their sharing of their loss. What followed though was unexpectedly intense. Rendered in the words of its main character, Carol Rifka Brunt's debut novel captures the subtle intricacies of human relationships and the rough smoothing of maturation. Editor's recommendation.

Library Journal
Fourteen-year-old June is a loner whose favorite activity is going to the woods in her lace-up boots and Gunne Sax dress and pretending she's a medieval falconer. It's the 1980s, and the only person who understands June is her gay uncle Finn, a famous artist dying of AIDS. June's visits with him in New York listening to Mozart and exploring the city have made her older sister Greta jealous. A popular girl with a starring role in the school musical, Greta treats June cruelly, hiding her devastation that they are no longer best friends. In the end, Finn's final creation, a portrait he painted of June and Greta, along with his secret lover, Toby, serve to unite the sisters. VERDICT Brunt's debut novel is both a painful reminder of the ill-informed responses to a once little-known disease and a delightful romp through an earlier decade. The relationship issues with parents and siblings should appeal to YA audiences, but adult readers will enjoy the suspenseful plot and quirky characters.—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Brunt's first novel elegantly pictures the New York art world of the 1980s, suburban Westchester and the isolation of AIDS. Fourteen-year-old June and 16-year-old Greta travel to Manhattan every few Sundays to be with Finn, their uncle. Finn is a renowned artist, dying of a largely unknown disease, and claims he wants to give them this last gift, though more likely it is the contact he craves. June and Finn have an intense relationship--he is charismatic and brilliant and takes her to special places; he is part magic and part uncle, and June adores him. Greta is jealous; she feels Finn favors June and stole her away. When he dies, June is devastated. At the funeral they see the one not to be mentioned: Finn's lover, Toby. June's mother refuses to admit him to the service and blames him for her baby brother's disease. Slowly, June and Toby develop a secret friendship, indulging their grief and keeping Finn alive through the exchange of memories. What she thought was simply Finn's apartment she discovers was their shared space, and much of what she loved about the place, and Finn, belongs to Toby. As she and Toby embark on Finn-worthy adventures, Greta is slowly falling apart, hiding in the woods drunk, sabotaging her chance at a summer stint on Broadway. Finn's portrait of the girls, worth nearly $1 million, is kept in a bank vault, and every time June visits (only she and Greta have keys) she notices additions to the painting that could only come from Greta. With Toby dying and Greta in danger, June lifts the covers off all of her family's secrets. There is much to admire in this novel. The subtle insight on sibling rivalry and the examination of love make for a poignant debut.
From the Publisher
Tell the Wolves I'm Home was named one of the Wall Street Journal's Top 10 Novels of 2012, one of Oprah.com's Best Books of 2012, one of Kirkus Reviews' top 100 books of the year, and one of Booklist's Top 10 First Novels of 2012 as well as a 2012 O Magazine Favorite Read.  It is also a Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist for Fiction and a Shelf Awareness Reviewer's Choice pick for 2012.

“A dazzling debut novel.” – O Magazine

“Tremendously moving…Brunt strikes a difficult balance, imbuing June with the disarming candor of a child and the melancholy wisdom of a heart-scarred adult."The Wall Street Journal

“In this lovely debut novel set in the 1980s, Carol Rifka Brunt takes us under the skin and inside the tumultuous heart of June Elbus…Distracted parents, tussling adolescents, the awful ghost-world of the AIDS-afflicted before AZT—all of it springs to life in Brunt’s touching and ultimately hopeful book.”People

“[A] transcendent debut… Peopled by characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt’s novel is a beautifully bittersweet mix of heartbreak and hope.”Booklist (starred review)

“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.  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.”—Bookpage
 

“A poignant debut…Brunt's first novel elegantly pictures the New York art world of the 1980s, suburban Westchester and the isolation of AIDS.”--Kirkus

“In [Tell the Wolves I’m Home], 15-year-old June must come to terms with the death of her beloved uncle Finn, an artist, from AIDS in 1980s New York. …What begins as a wary relationship between former rivals for Finn’s affection blossoms touchingly.”-PW

“[This] gut-wrenching portrayal of a 13-year-old coping with her beloved Uncle Finn’s death from AIDS more than delivers.”—Daily Candy

“[A] striking first outing…Brunt weaves a terrific coming-of-age story, painting a vibrant picture of June’s dreams and insecurities as she teeters on the border between childhood and maturity.”—The Onion A.V. Club

“An uplifting debut novel about loss, love, and unlikely friendships in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic …a literary pleasure read.”—BookBrowse

 “[A] beautiful novel of love and loss… accessible, sensitively told, and heartbreaking.”—School Library Journal Blogs (Starred Review)

 “If summer reading means being wholly transported to another era, I recommend Carol Rifka Brunt's brilliant and thoughtful debut novel Tell the Wolves I'm Home.”— David Gutowski, of Largehearted Boy, on The Atlantic Wire

“With this debut novel that flawlessly encapsulates the fragile years during the mid-'80s when the specter of AIDS began to haunt society at large, Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch…TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME will undoubtedly be this summer's literary sleeper hit.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Brunt's debut novel is both a painful reminder of the ill-informed responses to a once little-known disease and a delightful romp through an earlier decade. The relationship issues with parents and siblings should appeal to YA audiences, but adult readers will enjoy the suspenseful plot and quirky characters”—Library Journal

“A fresh yet nostalgic debut novel about a 1980s teen who loses a beloved uncle to AIDS but finds herself by befriending his grieving boyfriend. Filled with lost opportunities and second chances, Tell the Wolves I'm Home delivers wisdom, innocence and originality with surprising sweetness. Its cast of waifs and strays will steal your heart as they show each other the way to redemption.” –Shelf Awareness

“A gorgeously evocative novel about love, loss, and the ragged mysteries of the human heart, all filtered through the achingly real voice of a remarkable young heroine. How can you not fall in love with a book that shows you how hope can make a difference?”—Caroline Leavitt,  New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
 
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a charming, sure-handed, and deeply sympathetic debut. Brunt writes about family, adolescence, and the human heart with great candor, insight, and pathos.”—Jonathan Evison, New York Times bestselling author of West of Here
 
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tale as charming and magnetic as the missing character at its heart. It’s a love story of the most unusual kind—several love stories, really—vivid and madly relatable, heartening as well as heartbreaking. Brunt is a captivating storyteller and a wonderful new voice.”—Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrower

“Not since To Kill A Mockingbird have I read a piece of fiction that so beautifully captures the point of view of a young person, especially one so inspiringly unable to accept the prejudices of others….at turns getting away- with-it exhilarating and pass-the-tissues heartbreaking — but also a testament to the power of secrets kept and revealed.”Metrosource

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679644194
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Rifka Brunt’s work has appeared in several literary journals, including North American Review and The Sun. In 2006, she was one of three fiction writers who received the New Writing Ventures award and, in 2007, she received a generous Arts Council grant to write Tell the Wolves I’m Home, her first novel. Originally from New York, she currently lives in England with her husband and three children.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

One

My sister, Greta, and I were having our portrait painted by our uncle Finn that afternoon because he knew he was dying. This was after I understood that I wasn’t going to grow up and move into his apartment and live there with him for the rest of my life. After I stopped believing that the AIDS thing was all some kind of big mistake. When he first asked, my mother said no. She said there was something macabre about it. When she thought of the two of us sitting in Finn’s apartment with its huge windows and the scent of lavender and orange, when she thought of him looking at us like it might be the last time he would see us, she couldn’t bear it. And, she said, it was a long drive from northern Westchester all the way into Manhattan. She crossed her arms over her chest, looked right into Finn’s bird-­blue eyes, and told him it was just hard to find the time these days.

“Tell me about it,” he said.

That’s what broke her.

I’m fifteen now, but I was still fourteen that afternoon. Greta was sixteen. It was 1986, late December, and we’d been going to Finn’s one Sunday afternoon a month for the last six months. It was always just my mother, Greta, and me. My father never came, and he was right not to. He wasn’t part of it.

I sat in the back row of seats in the minivan. Greta sat in the row in front of me. I tried to arrange it like that so I could stare at her without her knowing it. Watching people is a good hobby, but you have to be careful about it. You can’t let people catch you staring at them. If people catch you, they treat you like a first-­class criminal. And maybe they’re right to do that. Maybe it should be a crime to try to see things about people they don’t want you to see. With Greta, I liked to watch the way her dark, sleek hair reflected the sun and the way the ends of her glasses looked like two little lost tears hiding just behind her ears.

My mother had on KICK FM, the country station, and even though I don’t really like country music, sometimes, if you let it, the sound of all those people singing their hearts out can bring to mind big old family barbecues in the backyard and snowy hillsides with kids sledding and Thanksgiving dinners. Wholesome stuff. That’s why my mother liked to listen to it on the way to Finn’s.

Nobody talked much on those trips to the city. It was just the smooth glide of the van and the croony country music and the gray Hudson River with hulking gray New Jersey on the other side of it. I kept my eyes on Greta the whole time, because it stopped me from thinking about Finn too much.

The last time we’d visited was a rainy Sunday in November. Finn had always been slight—­like Greta, like my mother, like I wished I was—­but on that visit I saw that he’d moved into a whole new category of skinny. His belts were all too big, so instead he’d knotted an emerald-­green necktie around his waist. I was staring at that tie, wondering when he might have worn it last, trying to imagine what kind of occasion would have been right for something so bright and iridescent, when suddenly Finn looked up from the painting, brush midair, and said to us, “It won’t be long now.”

Greta and I nodded, even though neither of us knew whether he meant the painting or him dying. Later, at home, I told my mother he looked like a deflated balloon. Greta said he looked like a small gray moth wrapped in a gray spider’s web. That’s because everything about Greta is more beautiful, even the way she says things.

It was December now, the week before Christmas, and we were stuck in traffic near the George Washington Bridge. Greta turned around in her seat to look at me. She gave me a twisty little smile and reached into her coat pocket to pull out a scrap of mistletoe. She’d done this for the last two Christmases, carried a piece of mistletoe around to pounce on people with. She took it to school with her and terrorized us at home with it. Her favorite trick was to sneak up behind our parents and then leap up to hold it over their heads. They were not the kind to show affection out in the open, which is why Greta loved to make them do it. In the van, Greta waved the mistletoe around in the air, brushing it right up into my face.

“You wait, June,” she said. “I’ll hold this over you and Uncle Finn and then what’ll you do?” She smiled at me, waiting.

I knew what she was thinking. I’d have to be unkind to Finn or risk catching AIDS, and she wanted to watch me decide. Greta knew the kind of friend Finn was to me. She knew that he took me to art galleries, that he taught me how to soften my drawings of faces just by rubbing a finger along the pencil lines. She knew that she wasn’t part of any of that.

I shrugged. “He’ll only kiss my cheek.”

But even as I said it, I thought of how Finn’s lips were always chapped to shreds now. How sometimes there would be little cracks where they’d started to bleed.

Greta leaned in, resting her arms on the back of her seat.

“Yeah, but how do you know that the germs from a kiss can’t seep in through the skin of your cheek? How can you be sure they can’t somehow swim into your blood right through your open pores?”

I didn’t know. And I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to turn gray.

I shrugged again. Greta turned around in her seat, but even from behind I could tell she was smiling.

It started to sleet, and the little nuggets of wet ice splatted against the window as we drove through the streets of the city. I tried to think of something good to say back to Greta, something to let her know that Finn would never put me in danger. I thought about all the things Greta didn’t know about Finn. Like the way he’d let me know the portrait was just an excuse. How he’d seen the look on my face the very first time we’d gone down for the painting sessions. How he’d waited for my mother and Greta to go ahead into the living room, and in that moment, when it was only the two of us in the narrow hallway inside Finn’s apartment door, he’d put his hand on my shoulder, leaned in, and whispered in my ear, “How else could I get all these Sundays with you, Crocodile?”

But that was something I would never tell Greta. Instead, when we were in the dim parking garage, climbing out of the van, I blurted out, “Anyway, skin’s waterproof.”

Greta pressed her door closed gently, then walked around the van to my side. She stood there for a few seconds, staring at me. At my big, clumsy body. She tugged the straps of her backpack tight against her little sparrow’s shoulders and shook her head.

“Believe what you want,” she said, turning away and heading for the stairs.

But that was impossible and Greta knew it. You could try to believe what you wanted, but it never worked. Your brain and your heart decided what you were going to believe and that was that. Whether you liked it or not.

My mother spent the hours at Uncle Finn’s in his kitchen, making pots of tea for us in a magnificent Russian teapot Finn had that was colored gold and red and blue with little dancing bears etched around the sides. Finn said that pot was reserved for serving tea to his favorite people. It was always waiting for us when we came. From the living room we could hear my mother organizing Finn’s cabinets, taking out jars and cans, plates and mugs, and loading them back in again. Every once in a while she’d come out to give us tea, which would usually go cold because Finn was busy painting and Greta and I weren’t allowed to move. All those Sundays, my mother hardly looked at Finn. It was obvious that she was being broken up into pieces about her only brother dying. But sometimes I thought there was more. She also never looked at the painting. She’d come out and set the teapot down and walk right past the easel, craning her head away. Sometimes I thought it wasn’t Finn at all. Sometimes it felt like it was the canvas and brushes and paint she was trying not to see.

That afternoon we sat for an hour and a half while Finn painted us. He had on Mozart’s Requiem, which Finn and I both loved. Even though I don’t believe in God, last year I convinced my mother to let me join the Catholic church choir in our town just so I could sing the Mozart Kyrie at Easter. I can’t even really sing, but the thing is, if you close your eyes when you sing in Latin, and if you stand right at the back so you can keep one hand against the cold stone wall of the church, you can pretend you’re in the Middle Ages. That’s why I did it. That’s what I was in it for.

The Requiem was a secret between me and Finn. Just the two of us. We didn’t even need to look at each other when he put it on. We both understood. He’d taken me to a concert at a beautiful church on 84th Street once and told me to close my eyes and listen. That’s when I first heard it. That’s when I first fell in love with that music.

“It creeps up on you, doesn’t it,” he’d said. “It lulls you into thinking it’s pleasant and harmless, it bumbles along, and then all of a sudden, boom, there it is rising up all menacing. All big drums and high screaming strings and deep dark voices. Then just as fast it backs right down again. See, Crocodile? See?”

Crocodile was a name Finn invented for me because he said I was like something from another time that lurked around, watching and waiting, before I made my mind up about things. I loved when he called me that. He sat in that church, trying to make sure I understood the music. “See?” he said again.

And I did see. At least I thought I saw. Or maybe I only pretended I did, because the last thing I ever wanted was for Finn to think I was stupid.

That afternoon the Requiem floated over all the beautiful things in Finn’s apartment. His soft Turkish carpets. The old silk top hat with the worn side to the wall. That big old Mason jar filled to the top with every possible color and pattern of guitar pick. Guitar pickles, Finn called them, because he kept them in that canning jar. The music floated right down the hallway, past Finn’s bedroom door, which was closed, private, like it always was. My mother and Greta didn’t seem to notice the way Finn’s lips moved along with the music—­voca me cum benedictus . . . gere curam mei finis . . . They had no idea they were even listening to a death song, which was a good thing, because if my mother had known what that music was, she would have turned it right off. Right. Off.

After a while, Finn turned the canvas around so we could see what he’d done. It was a big deal because it was the first time he’d let us see the actual painting.

“Take a closer look, girls,” he said. He never talked while he worked, so when he finally spoke, his voice was a thin, dry whisper. A flicker of embarrassment shot across his face, then he reached for a cup of cold tea, took a sip, and cleared his throat. “Danni, you too—­come in, have a look.”

My mother didn’t answer, so Finn called into the kitchen again. “Come on. Just for a second. I want to see what you think.”

“Later,” she called back. “I’m in the middle of something.”

Finn kept looking toward the kitchen like he was hoping maybe she would change her mind. When it was obvious she wasn’t going to, he frowned, then turned to stare at the canvas again.

He pushed himself up from the old blue chair he always painted in, wincing as he held on to it for a second, steadying himself. He took a step away and I could see that, other than the green tie at his waist, the only color Finn had was in the little splotches of paint all over his white smock. The colors of me and Greta. I felt like grabbing the paintbrush right out of his hand so I could color him in, paint him back to his old self.

“Thank God for that,” Greta said, stretching her arms way above her head and giving her hair a shake.

I stared at the portrait. I saw that Finn had put me slightly in the foreground even though we weren’t sitting that way, and I smiled.

“It’s not done . . . is it?” I asked.

Finn came over and stood next to me. He tilted his head and looked at the portrait, at the painted Greta, then at the painted me. He squinted, looking right into the eyes of that other me. He leaned in so his face almost touched the wet canvas, and I felt goose bumps prickle on my arm.

“No,” he said, shaking his head, still staring at the portrait. “Not quite. Do you see? There’s something missing. Maybe something in the background . . . maybe a little more with the hair. What do you think?”

I breathed out and relaxed my chest, unable to hold back a smile. I nodded hard. “I think so too. I think we should come a few more times.”

Finn smiled back and rubbed his pale hand across his pale forehead. “Yes. A few more,” he said.

He asked us what we thought of the painting so far. I said it was fantastic and Greta didn’t say anything. Her back was turned to us. She wasn’t even looking at the painting. Both her hands were in her pockets, and when she twisted slowly around, her face was blank. That’s something about Greta. She can hide everything she’s thinking. The next thing I knew she’d pulled out her mistletoe and was standing there holding it up in one hand. She waved it in an arc like she was cutting the air above our heads, like she was holding something more than just a scrap of Christmas leaves and berries. Finn and I both looked up and my heart seized. We looked at each other for the amount of time that’s maybe one grain of sand in an hourglass or one drop of water from a leaky tap, and Finn, my uncle Finn, read me—­snap—­like that. In that tiny slice of a second, he saw I was afraid, and he bent my head down and kissed the top of my hair with such a light touch it could have been a butterfly landing.

On the ride home I asked Greta if she thought you could catch AIDS from hair. She shrugged, then turned and stared out the window for the rest of the drive.

I shampooedmy hair three times that night. Then I wrapped myself in towels and crawled under my blankets and tried to sleep. I counted sheep and stars and blades of grass, but nothing worked. All I could think of again and again was Finn. I thought about his soft kiss. I thought about how just for a second, just as he’d leaned in to me, AIDS and Greta and my mother had disappeared from the room. It was only Finn and me in that tiniest of tiny moments, and before I could stop myself I wondered what it might be like if he really did kiss my lips. I know how gross that is, how revolting, but I want to tell the truth, and the truth is that I lay in bed that night imagining Finn’s kiss. I lay in bed thinking about everything in my heart that was possible and impossible, right and wrong, sayable and unsayable, and when all those thoughts were gone there was only one thing left: how terribly much I was going to miss my uncle Finn.

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Carol Rifka Brunt, Author of Tell the Wolves I'm Home
What inspired you to write this story?
I can't really name a single inspiration. I've heard other writers talk about getting ideas from newspaper articles or photos or overheard conversations. I'm always envious when they can remember the exact thing that inspired the work. I don't think I work that way. It's not that I don't also notice those sorts of things, but they seem to need to go into the compost heap of my mind for such a long time—like decades—that by the time they make their way into fiction the original inspiration is entirely unrecognizable.
What I can remember is that I was working on several short stories at the time and, in the way that often happens when you're doing a lot of creative work, a scene came into my mind that was unrelated to any of the stories. The scene was a dying uncle painting a final portrait of his niece. I didn't know anything else at that point. No sense that he was dying of AIDS or even that this would be set in New York. I just saw the two of them and felt that there was a lot of tension in the situation. That scene turned into a 700-word short story (very similar to the first chapter of the book) and from there I kept going because there was so much more I wanted to know about the situation and the characters.
Where do you usually write?
I am so easily distracted that I have to stay at home. I have a tiny little closet-sized office across from the kitchen. Even when I've lived in houses where I had an office with a view, I found that I had to draw the curtains in order to stay focused. It is very easy to spend days staring out the window. I would love to one day be the kind of person who can write in coffee shops or in the park, but I fear that may never happen.
How did you come up with your characters?
I don't feel like I really came up with them. I don't do character profiles or anything like that. They seem to just emerge. That is such an unsatisfactory answer! I know. But, really, that's pretty much how it feels. June's voice, for instance, was there right from the start. That's usually the key for me. Once I can hear the way the character speaks, I can start to uncover who they really are. June is the first-person narrator of Tell the Wolves I'm Home, but I also wrote pages where I let the other characters ramble on in first person, knowing they would not be included in the book, just as a way to get their voices in my head.
I do think that for me, characters—all of them, not just main characters or narrators—are little slivers of my own self. Each has a little seed of a possible me in them and if that seed had been allowed to grow, maybe I would have turned out that way rather than this. Maybe characters are a way of exploring our alternative selves.
Why did you choose to write from a teenage girl's point of view?
Well, June's voice was the first thing I had. It's hard for me to imagine the story without her voice and perspective. Every story has so many possible points of view. Any one could be interesting, but as a writer, I want to tell the stories that are mine to tell in some way. Telling the story from June's perspective had that feel for me. I was around her age in 1987 and could still conjure the sense of being a teenager at that time. I also think June is an excellent filter for this story. Her lack of full understanding of certain aspects of AIDS, for instance, meant that I didn't have to burden the story with that information. Rather than being limiting, the teen perspective allowed me the space to explore the story in a deeper way because of all the information I was free to leave out.
What made you explore the topic of AIDS?
It was more of a process of uncovering that the uncle was dying of AIDS than a decision to explore that topic from the outset. The uncle was childless, which was why this final painting, this final chance at forging a connection with somebody who would go on to outlive him by so many years, was so important to him. He was childless and only in his 40s, and when I understood that, I started to understand that he had AIDS. What I quickly realized was that as a writer of fiction, AIDS affords you a lot of morally complex material to work with. There will be somebody who gave the character AIDS. There will be guilt and shame. Cancer isn't like that. No other modern day disease has the particular cruelty of AIDS, where you can give somebody you might love a life ending (in the 80s, when Tell the Wolves is set) illness. I don't think Wolves is an AIDS story as such. It isn't a book about disease, but the implications of this specific disease are felt right through the novel.
Late in the writing of the first draft I understood something else about my connection to AIDS. My eighth grade English teacher was a man from London who had come over to teach us via an exchange program. This was quite an exciting thing for us. His accent, musical taste, dress sense, all of it was pretty exotic. He taught us for the year then returned to England. About six months after he left, word came back that he'd died. He was only in his 30s. A few weeks later word got out that he'd had AIDS. This was my (and I'm sure most of my classmates') first personal brush with AIDS. It was shocking at the time. Only after a lot of writing did I understand that this event had remained in my subconscious in a rather large way. Even my descriptions of Toby in the book bear a strong resemblance to that teacher. I think that's one of the most miraculous things about writing; the way you get a kind of sneaky access to your own subconscious.
Who have you discovered lately?
I've recently re-discovered Russell Banks. I love Affliction, The Sweet Hereafter and his collection of stories, The Angel on the Roof. For some reason he kind of drifted off my radar for a few years, but I just started reading Lost Memory of Skin and am remembering all over again why I like his work so much.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. Toby initiates a relationship with June that necessarily involves secrets kept from her parents. Can this ever be right? Is it ever okay for an adult to have a secret relationship with a child, even if it’s formed out of the best of intentions?

2. Every relationship in the book is tinged with jealousy and/or envy. How is this played out in each of the relationships? Can jealousy ever be a positive thing? Does loving someone too much always lead to jealousy?

3. How do you feel about Danni, June’s mother? How much is she to blame for the events in the book?

4. What did you make of June’s special feelings for Finn? Have you ever felt the wrong kind of love for someone in your own life?

5. “The sun kept on with its slipping away, and I thought how many small good things in the world might be resting on the shoulders of something terrible” (page 233). How does this speak to the events in Tell the Wolves I’m Home? Can terrible things like AIDS result in good?

6. “You get into habits. Ways of being with certain people” (page 206). Toby says this to June when they’re talking about her relationship with Greta. Many sisters (and brothers) have fractious relationships as teenagers, then grow up to be friends. Do you think that will be the case with Greta and June? Have you had an experience like this with your own sibling(s)?

7. If you remember the late eighties, do you remember anything about your perception of AIDS and the fear surrounding the disease?

8. How has society’s reaction to homosexuality changed over the last twenty-five years? How would this story have been different if it took place in 2012?

9. Greta is older, savvier, and knows more than June, but June sometimes seems wiser than her sister. How is this so? Does knowledge equal wisdom?

10. Do you think June will ever show Greta the secret basement room and the stash of Finn’s paintings, or will she always keep this to herself?

11.  Do you blame June for what happens to Toby toward the end of the book? Do you think June will ever forgive herself for what happened that night?

12.  Do you think the portrait was more beautiful before or after it was restored to its original state? Can a work of art be improved by external additions, or is the artist’s vision and intention the most important aspects of art?

13. June would like to escape to the Middle Ages. All her favorite places are escapist in nature. Would June actually be happy if her wish of time travel were granted? How does that wish change over the course of the story? Is escapism ever valuable? How do you escape?

14. Of all the themes in the novel (love, loss, regret, family relationships, etc.), which one do you think is the most important and why?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 153 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(99)

4 Star

(35)

3 Star

(15)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 153 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 26, 2012

    Sometimes an author writes about a person's life that has result

    Sometimes an author writes about a person's life that has resulted in some kind of tragedy and as you turn the pages the story becomes less and less believable. That is NOT the case with Tell the Wolves I’m Home. The author tells a story during the period of a person’s particular tragedy along with her immediate family and writes about life correctly. This book could have happened to anyone’s family. This is a well written, thought out book.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2012

    OUTSTANDING!

    Tell the Wolves I'm Home is about love and how it is seldom easy or tidy; often hard to define, keep, and give; but how necessary it is, what it can make of our lives. The novel is narrated by a perfectly written and vividly realized 14-year-old June, who was in love with her gay uncle, Finn, a famous artist, who dies of AIDS shortly after the novel begins. (The novel is set in the late 1980s, a time when AIDS was a new and misunderstood disease, and thus a very frightening one as well. The novel captures the memory of that time totally, and beautifully.) June has a sister, Greta, who is slowly imploding, jealous of June's relationship with Finn which she blames for changing what she had with June. June and Greta's mother, Finn's sister, blames Finn's boyfriend Toby for Finn's death and what she sees as Finn's earlier abandonment. Toby misses Finn as much as June does, and it is the bond between these two, grieving the loss of the same love, that delivers June and Greta back to each other, and heals their mother. Near the book's end, June says,"I know all about love that's too big to stay in a tiny bucket. Splashing out all over the place in the most embarrassing way possible." She does, and watching her come into this knowledge is fabulous and satisfying reading.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    LOVE

    THIS IS A REALLY GREAT BOOK!!!! I LOVE IT!!! EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT!!!!!!!!!

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 14, 2012

    Tell The Wolves I'm Home is exceptional. The best book I've rea

    Tell The Wolves I'm Home is exceptional. The best book I've read in years. Carol Rifka Brunt is thoughtful and evidences an ability to capture what is beautiful about language and unexpected human connections. A touching and original piece of literary work. I can't wait to read more from this author!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing! Be Prepared to Laugh and Cry. Just a Lovely Story!

    What a touching and lovely story. Tell the Wolves I'm Home had me alternating between hope and despair, laughter and tears and generally a looking like a hot mess to anyone not reading over my shoulder or reading my mind.

    This story of a young girl losing her beloved uncle takes place in a time (not so long ago) when a homosexual lifestyle was marginally accepted, but still kept under wraps for propriety's sake. In other words: we accept your choice, but let's not discuss it in front of the children because we still secretly think you're a perv no matter what we tell you to the contrary.

    And if you were unlucky enough to catch the "Gays Disease," you were barely able to be around children, much less let them know the nature of your disease. I grew up in this time and I remember it vividly. It is amazing to me how far we have come in terms of acceptance of alternate lifestyles, as well as how far we still have to go.

    Through a series of misunderstandings and conscious lies, June is kept from fully knowing her precious uncle. So, after his death, when his friend tries to for a relationship with her, she is leery. Through patience and love Toby slowly creates a tenuous friendship with June that helps them both heal from the pain of their mutual loss.

    Brunt has created a timeless tale that speaks with an honest voice about loss, family, love, fear, hope and friendship. Tell the Wolves I'm Home truly touched my heart in a profoundly beautiful way.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    Thoughtful and unique

    A complex novel about how we love and who we love and what we do when love is taken from us. Equally as moving as the relationship between uncle and niece was the strained relationship between teenage sisters and the acurately captured special bond that sisters often have. A good read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    Smart and real. Loved it!

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves real and believable characters. This family is so complex and the dynamics cut across time and place. I loved the emotions the author could so easily evoke.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    I Loved this book!

    Beautifully written!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 10, 2012

    One of the best reads I've had all year! Couldn't put it down.

    One of the best reads I've had all year! Couldn't put it down. The story pulls you in and keeps you there. Highly recommended!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Beautiful stiry. Beautifully written!

    I loved this story of love and loss and family.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    Great Read!

    This story about a young girl dealing with the loss of a beloved uncle is both sad and sweet. It exposes family dynamics between siblings as well as between parents and children. Fourteen year old June mourns not only her uncle but also the closeness she and her older sister once had. She develops a friendship with her uncle's friend and through that friendship learns things about her uncle, herself and her family that all work toward resolving some family issues while moving toward forgiveness and hope.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    Summer Reading MUST

    The author captured the confusion and fear and loss of so many families and their dying loved ones during the 80's AIDS crisis. Carol Rifka Brunts novel is in many ways a poignant re-telling of an experience that untold numbers of nieces and nephews lived through but were not capible of describing or capturing so vividly. As one of those neices, I thank her for giving me the outline of my own story that needs to be kept safely in my heart and memory.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2013

    Masterful. 

    Masterful. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

    Beautifully honest

    Growing up in the '80's, AIDS was a frightening new fatal illness that all the best in medicine had't figured out. People reacted insuch cruel ways. The story, told through the voice of a young teenage girl demonstrates what good cancome from a place of love, even if "mistakes" are made. It has been a long time since a novel made me cry. When a book can cause that kind of emotion, you know it was done right!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2012

    disappointing

    Thinking it would be choc full of 80's nostalgia I bought this book. Unfortunately the book's only reference to the 1980's was the AIDS epidemic. The rest of the book dealt with a bizarre, unrealistic relationship a young girl had with her dying uncle.

    2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    Could not stop reading. I just loved this book.

    Could not stop reading. I just loved this book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 10, 2014

    Good, easy read.

    This book was good. Not one of my favorites, but good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

    Outstanding, insightful.

    What a great book. The author's story telling is so well timed. She holds you captive with this touching, incredibly insightful story about life, and love, and family, and heart aches, and disappointent, and the human heart.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 6, 2013

    Great writing

    I loved this book. I read a lot of novels and this is a good one. It will stay in my library of favorites.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Jordan to Werewolves

    Today at noon there will be an attack on the vampires. Faolan knows me, I cam be trusted. Meet 5 minutes before noon (atlantic/central time) at 'evil wolf' res 1 for the full set details. I hope to see you there.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 153 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)