tell the wolves i'm home
Author: Carol Rifka Brunt
Published: June 2012, PanMacMillan UK, Dial Press US
I waited a few days to write this post because I'm afraid I might start bawling again. And believe it or not, I'm not the weepy kind. I may have shed a tear or two when words or stories moved me but it takes a very special book to break me down to pieces.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home is that kind of book. Simply put, it read me. Understood those thoughts that I never dared say aloud, my fears and dreams, the dark corners of my heart, all of it. I saw some parts of my younger self in the book's narrator that at times it was painful to read just how much she resonated in me.
Set in 1987, June is an introspective and shy fourteen year-old who feels like she belongs in a different time. She wears long skirts, goes for walks in the woods, and imagines that she lives in the Middle Ages. The only person who truly understands her is her uncle and godfather Finn. So when he dies, not only was June devastated by the loss of a best friend, she also has to deal with the truth that he may have kept some aspects of his life hidden from her.
"…once you had a friend like Finn, it was almost impossible to find someone in high school who came anywhere close. Sometimes I wondered if I might go through my whole life looking for someone who came even a little bit close."
Oh yes. I know exactly what she is talking about. To lose that one person who was absolutely in your wavelength and feel like a fraction of your soul was ripped apart when he was gone.
But it's not just about grief and sadness, for Wolves is so richly drawn and complex. There is June's relationship with her parents and her older sister Greta. And her reluctant friendship with Toby, the mysterious man that she saw at Finn's funeral. It's a story about losing and finding love, all told by such an unforgettable voice of a young girl.
"I wasn’t interested in drinking beer or vodka or smoking cigarettes or doing all the other things Greta thinks I can’t even imagine. I don’t want to imagine those things. Anyone can imagine things like that. I want to imagine wrinkled time, and forests thick with wolves, and bleak midnight moors. I dream about people who don’t need to have sex to know they love each other. I dream about people who would only ever kiss you on the cheek."
“I used to think maybe I wanted to become a falconer, and now I'm sure of it, because I need to figure out the secret. I need to work out how to keep things flying back to me instead of always flying away.”
June is the kind of storyteller who will tug at your heartstrings because she's so real and unapologetically herself. I was reluctant to put the book down when I finished it because I wanted to spend more time with her and her story. And it might be too early to say but I think this is my best read of the year.