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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful debut novel
This is a wonderful story about the close bond between a young girl, fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and her inspirational uncle, the noted artist Finn Weiss. He's the only person that June feels she can share her secrets with, and reveal her true self to. When Finn passes away, June finds herself adrift, wondering how her life can possibly go on without Finn being a part...
Published on 7 Jun 2012 by L. H. Healy

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book.
To a person who also grew up in the 80s amid all those rumours and secrecy surrounding AIDS, this was a very interesting time-travel exercise, reading this book brought me back to that time when we didn't know anything and we made up for that ignorance with the most outrageous random answers... it was a nice book to read, characters were really good even when they weren't...
Published 11 months ago by VdlC


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful debut novel, 7 Jun 2012
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a wonderful story about the close bond between a young girl, fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and her inspirational uncle, the noted artist Finn Weiss. He's the only person that June feels she can share her secrets with, and reveal her true self to. When Finn passes away, June finds herself adrift, wondering how her life can possibly go on without Finn being a part of it. Then June meets Finn's partner Toby, who has never been mentioned to June before, and a new friendship is slowly formed which will alter the way she views herself and her late uncle. They are both lonely, struggling to cope with life without Finn, united in the immense loss and grief they share.

It is also about siblings, and the changing relationship between June and Greta as they grow up, having lost the closeness they once shared, both wanting it back but seemingly unable to rediscover it from under all the layers of jealousy and misunderstanding.

This is a lovely, sincere, warm-hearted book, with a story rooted in the early days of AIDS awareness, when misconceptions abounded and most people didn't openly discuss the illness. It is about our perceptions of people, the judgements we make, and how we can discover so much about ourselves and those close to us through the most unlikely friendships and in the most unexpected places.

I found this a profoundly moving novel, and a highly accomplished and heartfelt debut.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and compassionate, 2 May 2012
By 
Jood (UK) - See all my reviews
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Fourteen-year-old June Elbus is not a typical teenager. Growing up in the late 1980's, she is shy and slightly geeky, daydreaming about living in medieval times, often disappearing into the local woods in an effort to make this a reality. The relationship with her older sister, Greta is now distant, and their parents are often absent from the scene as they immerse themselves in their work. The only person she is close to is her Uncle Finn; he is her best friend, her godfather, the only person who fully understands her. He introduces June to music, opera, theatre and art, and when Finn dies of a mysterious illness that no-one will discuss, June is grief-stricken. A few days after the funeral a man she has glimpsed briefly there hand delivers a package. Inside is the beautiful teapot she recognises as Finn's and a note from Toby, the stranger at the funeral asking June to meet him. So begins a strange and moving friendship, as June struggles to come to terms with her loss, a loss she is unable to discuss with anyone.

June's naivety is endearing, and that, along with her flashes of insight and wisdom make a compelling character. And who can help but love Finn and Toby? In fact all the characters are believable and sympathetic.

I loved this book not only for its beautifully written characters, but for its compassion. I was gripped from the first page and was actually quite sad to finish it and leave these people behind.

Most definitely an author to watch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book., 17 Sep 2013
By 
VdlC (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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To a person who also grew up in the 80s amid all those rumours and secrecy surrounding AIDS, this was a very interesting time-travel exercise, reading this book brought me back to that time when we didn't know anything and we made up for that ignorance with the most outrageous random answers... it was a nice book to read, characters were really good even when they weren't there, and the New York and Westchester portrait is beautiful. I really liked it.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tender story, 23 May 2012
By 
C. Colley (Lincs) - See all my reviews
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This story surrounds June Elbus, a young girl whose world is turned upside down when her uncle Finn, a renowned painter, dies of AIDS. After Finn's funeral, June strikes up a friendship with Toby, a man who was close to Finn, but also the man who June's family blames for Finn's death. In secret, the two begin spending time together. This story beautifully portrays their friendship as they struggle to cope with the loss of Finn. June discovers new things about Finn that she was never part of when he was alive.
Prior to his death, Finn had just finished a portrait of June and her sister Greta. The painting, which is at the centre of the story helps to repair June and Greta's difficult relationship. Family secrets are slowly revealed which help them to forgive and move on.
I cannot praise this book enough. I adored the characters and the story. The story is told in a gentle way and deals with very moving and difficult issues. To really enjoy the lovely writing, this book needs to be savoured and not rushed.
I'm very positive this book will be one of my favourites in 2012.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best book I've read this year, 20 July 2014
This review is from: Tell the Wolves I'm Home (Paperback)
June’s favourite person is her Uncle Finn. When her uncle dies of AIDS, she has the chance to find out more about him from the mysterious man who she has been told killed him, his boyfriend Toby.

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything as good as this! It’s a very powerful and moving story with so many important themes: feeling connected to someone, sisterly rivalry and sisterly love, selfishness, redemption, and above all, dealing with grief. June learns to love for the first time and learns that it’s not as we want it to be: there are disappointments and things that are just unbelievably unfair, but that’s what makes it perfect.

The characters were all very strong in this book, and my favourite character was Greta. Greta is June’s sister who at first seemed so spiteful through June’s eyes. You could feel that June was almost afraid to be around Greta, never sure what she would do next. Greta’s behaviour turns self-destructive and we start to realise that she’s all alone; her uncle has died, her sister is out having a secret friendship, and her parents are always out. We start to identify with her just as strongly as we do for June.

If there is one thing that this book does well, its complex relationships! It’s about all the different ways we can connect with one another and what is right and acceptable for two people to be to each other. June and Toby’s relationship isn’t acceptable but they both need it and they both work hard at it. Through grief they connect and build such a beautiful relationship.

This book reminds us how important it is to cherish the ones we love. It’s a beautiful, touching and unique read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not that good!, 28 Mar 2013
By 
Mrs C "Chris in Hampshire" (England) - See all my reviews
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The story, set in New York State USA, mainly revolves around 14 yo June Elbus and her older sister, Greta. June is somewhat different to most girls of her age, in that she likes to imagine herself living back in time. So far back it is the Middle Ages in England. She likes to go off by herself to the woods to listen to what they say and to imagine herself in this other world. Her Uncle Finn, to whom she is devoted, is an artist whose favourite period is Medieval art.

Uncle Finn paints a portrait of the sisters because he is dying - of AIDS.

The book is set in the 1980's when AIDS was a bit of a taboo subject.

The story then goes on about June's obsessiveness with Uncle Finn, about meeting his 'special friend' (Finn was gay), about ups and downs with her sister.

The main theme I found was this total obsession of June for her Uncle and it made it a bit 'odd'. The book is not a page turner as it all felt a bit repetitive because of this obbessive theme which ran through most of the story.

The book I believe is marketed as Adult Reading, but I felt as the main characters were the teenage sisters, that is might be for the young adult/mid teen readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Debut, 28 Nov 2012
By 
Lovely Treez (Belfast, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Tell the Wolves I'm Home is Carol Rifka Brunt's extraordinary, literary debut novel set in New York in 1987. Narrated by 14 year old June Elbus, this is an engaging coming of age story filled with the highs and lows of family life. June is a bit of a nerd and doesn't quite fit in with her peers but she does have a special link with her Uncle Finn, the famous but now reclusive artist. When Finn dies, far too young, June discovers that she was not the centre of his universe but she shared that limelight with Toby, Finn's "special" friend.

As the story unfolds, June gradually gets to know Toby but she is still torn apart by jealousy, a bitter envy of the close relationship Toby had with Finn. Ironically her obsession has left her oblivious to how envious her older sister Greta is of her closeness to Finn. June's mother has mixed emotions about her brother, Finn for reasons which will eventually become clearer as the story progresses but the author doesn't tie everything up neatly, after all, family relationships are rarely straightforward.

I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful tale of a family coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. I'd forgotten how prehistoric some people's attitudes to AIDS were when it first hit the news headlines, indeed some folk have still not moved on! June's mother seems convinced that Toby killed Finn by giving him the AIDS virus but this is just another example of the mass hysteria which surrounded AIDS in the early days. The parents seem well-meaning but they work ridiculously long hours and June and Greta are left to their own devices most of the time - a recipe for disaster.

Each character is far from perfect, even the revered Finn whose very absence haunts the novel, even June, the misunderstood teen, who acknowledges that she has ulterior motives for some of her seemingly selfless actions. This is a beautifully written, slow moving story which needs to be savoured rather than rushed - a very impressive debut.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A THEMATIC TAPESTRY, 9 Sep 2012
By 
Red Rock Bookworm (St. George Utah USA) - See all my reviews
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Carol Rifka Brunt has created a seductive cast of characters to populate TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME, a tale as unusual as the chemistry contained in its myriad relationships and stories Set in the 1980's, it addresses the pain and fear experienced by friends and family when a loved one was diagnosed with the AIDS virus . Narrated by fourteen year old June Elbus, this perceptive portrayal of a frayed family advances a multi-faceted look at the grieving process and the assiduous effort required in navigating the often choppy waters in the process we refer to as "growing up".

June's Uncle Finn is the AIDS infected artist, and has decided to paint one last picture. It is a portrait of his two nieces Greta and June which he has titled it TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME . The paintings title refers to the almost invisible wolf shaped space separating the paintings two subjects. It could also refers to the pain of separation that eats at each of the books characters like a ravenous wolf: Finn's self imposed separation from the art world, his sister's (the girl's mother) withdrawal and separation from Finn's life, the separate lives lived by each member of the Elbus family, the compulsory separation of Finn and his significant other Toby, Toby's separation from his country and finally, and finally the way that grieving sometimes causes us to erect a barrier to protect and separate us from further hurt.
The Uncle Finn character appears stoic and unruffled as he confronts his disease and nurtures his relationship with god-daughter June which makes his death all the more devastating to her. Toby, also a victim of the dreaded AIDS virus, remains a shadow figure until after Finn's death at which time he enters June's life and slowly attempts to convince June to share their memories of Finn so that both may attain some sort of healing and closure.

June's sister Greta is a fragmented and very fragile character although she tries to appear very strong and in control. Only sixteen, she is a senior in high school, possesses an amazing vocal and acting talent and attempts to compensate for the fact that she is more than a little damaged and living far beyond her comfort zone by subjecting June to malicious tricks and hurtful taunts concerning their Uncle Finn.

The parents are noticeably detached and absent both physically and emotionally and have chosen the burdens of their jobs as a convenient excuse for having turned their daughters into what could only be described as "latch-key kids".

This is a beautiful novel that explores the various relationship aspects of love, betrayal, loss and ultimate healing. A great read whether your 16 or 60.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an extraordinary novel of recent history, 19 Aug 2012
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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In the tradition of Frankie, Adams, Scout Finch and the various Zindel hero(ine)s June Elbus is approaching the age where she not only discovers Love but also its many shades and colours.

Recovering from grief after the untimely death of a favourite uncle and confidant June suspects that the world from which she has so far been protected is both more exciting and more dangerous than she had been led to believe. She sees through The Big Lie guided by the spirit of Finn Weiss, artist extraordinaire and Toby, Finn's life partner.

This extraordinary debut is an historical novel set in the blindsighted 80's; history is a distancing device here as it is, to modern eyes, appalling to witness the ignorance and prejudice surrounding the early recognition and treatment of AIDS in America.

The book's natural power lies in the perspective of June's narration, her understanding of love and family, of, perhaps, necessary lies and deceit and in doing so is able to form her own slightly fractured identity previously seen only through the eyes and opinions of others.

Her Love for Finn, her dead uncle, is slowly unravelled as she learns of him through Toby, who is the secret heart of the book. Adolescent angst has rarely been so well examined as in this stunning new novel that I can only hope becomes as standard a text as others I have quoted above.

The title of the book, the thing that originally intrigued me, is the title of Finn's double portrait of June and her sister and "the wolf" being a mysterious shape between the two figures, this can be interpreted in many ways as deeply symbolic of the gulf between the siblings, that scary monster so often just glimpsed outside of our blindspots or the beast within us all that needs to be tames through knowledge and understanding

I feel that this author's name will be mentioned for a long time to come
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un-put-down-able!, 6 Aug 2012
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This was a brilliant read, in every way.

I loved each of the characters for their complexities and the way with each one you could learn something about yourself, life, people, relationships and the world.

I was gripped from the start and although I was eager to reach the end, I did not actually want it to end. I did not want to leave the characters behind.

In the end, the story is a love story. The many different types of love that humans experience and the complex nature of these 'loves'.

The novel is beautiful, sad, thought provoking, insightful and a pleasure to read and become lost in.
Enjoy.
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Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (Paperback - 14 Feb 2013)
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