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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 17 September 2013
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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on 28 April 2015
What a lovely book to read - wasn't quite sure it was my type of book [recommended read by "reading group"] but it was really enjoyable. Looking at the world through the eyes of a 14 year old who adores her dying Uncle/God Father really set me thinking. Also the sibling rivalry with her older sister - very familiar I should imagine in a lot of sisters. High recommended - keep tissues to hand at the end - loved it! The author has a wonderful way of taking you into the story whereby you almost feel you are there feeling the laughter and the tears.
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This is a well crafted coming of age novel set in the Eighties in the middle of the AIDS epidemic, when people were dying like flies and nobody knew much about AIDS or how you caught it. June Elbus is a young woman whose beloved uncle, a renowned artist who has not shown any work for ten years, dies of AIDS shortly after finishing his last painting, a picture of June and her older sister. June idolized her uncle and her coming to terms with his loss, and learning to be her own woman is the main theme of the novel. The book is much more than this though. It is a thoughtful evocation of a time of fear and ignorance, and a study of the dynamics of family life and what it means to grow up. It is also a novel about love, and its imperfections. I thought this was a beautifully written, thoughtful work which stayed with me long after I had finished it. I am eager to see what Rifka Brunt comes up with next.
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on 10 February 2013
I loved this book. It took me back in time to the confusion of teenage feelings, to sibling bonds and small injustices so powerfully felt, to the gradual dawning of understanding of complex, grown-up affairs, and to the times and places in which the story is set.

June is a convincing narrator, and the characters around her were developed with writerly skill. The story is sometimes painful, but always full of compassion. The twists and turns in the plot are perfectly paced and kept me engrossed. I reached the end with a sense of nostalgic sadness, and much weeping (possibly with a teenager's self-indulgence!) Fiction gold; definitely one of my favourite books of the year.
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on 6 August 2012
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.
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on 28 April 2014
I found this book a real page turner and I don't often say this. I knew as soon as I turned over to another chapter even if I intended to cease reading then I couldn't resist reading on. I felt it very real, in how a young girl would react to finding her uncle had AIDS. It also had a believable ending although having great pathos..
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I whizzed through this book in a matter of days, initially it was because I was really drawn into the story but as I neared the middle of the book I really found the premise of a teenage girl hanging around with a middle aged man a bit strange. Various things just didn't add up, and I think the central section could have been edited down to improve the book. By the time I had finished it I was left feeling undecided about my feelings and pretty sure it was not a 4 or 5 star book as I had initially thought, which is always disappointing.

A very good first novel however, with the help of a good editor I think this author will one to look out for.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This had an extremely original storyline - a teenage girl befriends the man that her family hold responsible for the death of her beloved and supremely talented uncle.

It's a beautifully written book with superbly well developed characters that never ring a false note. The AIDS fears of the mid to late Eighties are perfectly re-evoked and the time captured very well. It was a shock to realise that what many of us think of as recent events will be unfamiliar to anyone under thirty and hazy to anyone under thirty-five, so this book may well be introducing the subject to a new audience.

Carol Rifka Brunt makes you care about the characters, makes you care what happened and hope for good outcomes against hope. The relationship between June and her sister Greta is wonderfully realistic, there is nothing candy coated in this story, just superb reflections on human nature.
Definitely worth reading.
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on 29 April 2013
I have just finished this book for book club and found it difficult to put down. The terrible treatment of those with Aids when it first became public. This book gives a sad insight of how people perceived this horrible disease in the early days of its appearance. The innocence of June and how she comes to deal with her feelings for both Finn and then Toby . The jealousy of mother of her brother and then June of Toby's relationship with Finn and then Greta of her sister is masterfully dealt with. A moving and beautiful story.
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on 9 April 2014
I enjoyed this book although I don't really know why I did. It tackles some difficult areas including dealing with death for an already angst ridden teenager, and the difficult relationships arising from the feelings at causes. I particularly felt involved with the sisters relationship and what I thought was going to be another facet to the story relating to the sister didn't happen, for which I was pleased as it could have been quite cliche. Of course, it also deals with the terrible situation of AIDS, which for me, felt very realistic of the attitudes in that era. I wouldn't call it a page turner, but I always looked forward to getting back to it. If you enjoyed The Red House, I think you would enjoy this.
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