You know that feeling you get when something is just so beautiful and sad and overwhelmingly unfair? That feeling of childlike fury that is tears welling up and threatening to spill over the rims of your eyes, and a lump that won’t budge from your throat? That feeling of being profoundly displaced from your firm sense of justice in the universe, leaving you utterly disgusted by and mournful for humans?
That’s what reading Tell the Wolves I’m Home will do to you.
TTWIH is the coming-of-age story of June Elbus, an awkward and peculiar teenager living outside New York City in the 1980s. June has two accountant parents (and it’s tax season, so she’s basically an orphan); a sometimes-wicked older sister, Greta; and Finn, her quirky artist uncle who just so happens to love the Renaissance and classical music as much as June. When Finn dies of AIDS, June is crushed, left alone to sort through her feelings and the gauntlet that is teenage years. Her curiosity is soon piqued, though, by the lanky blonde man that showed up at the funeral, who Greta claims “murdered Finn.” When a mysterious note arrives — along with one of Finn’s most prized belongings — June throws caution to the wind and meets with the note’s author, Toby. In an unbelievable twist of fate, June comes to know the man her beloved Finn loved and in turn, begins to know herself.
I cherished every page of this magnificent work and thoroughly enjoyed the unfolding of June’s character. My heart ached for June as she tried so fervently to put others back together — even when she needed the putting-together most. She’s the kind of character you’ll find yourself wanting to wrap in a warm embrace . . . and maybe, secretly, you’ll find yourself hoping to encounter someone like her someday, because June is just that utterly endearing.
The Good: This novel is nothing short of brilliant, a praise I do not bestow lightly. The prose is evocative and intentional, characters are vibrant, and the plot flows with the turbulence of true-to-life emotion and the whimsy of fate. Every component of this narrative was tediously crafted to ensure an intricate, purposeful read. I greatly appreciated the attention to detail Brunt offers readers in this work and enjoyed her effortless prose.
The Bad: The book ended. That was bad. Awful, really. I wanted it to go on forever . . .
The Verdict: 5 gleaming, extra-polished, supernova stars.