Book Worm Recommends: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
New for 2020 I will be sharing with you all those incredibly rare books that get a 5 star rating from me and trust me they are few and far between. These are the books that have that little something extra that lifts them beyond my usual 3 & 4 stars don’t ask me what that something is as I will never be able to explain it even to myself.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt published in 2012. This was an impulse buy a couple of years ago I saw it on sale in my local garden centre and fell in love with the cover, honestly can you blame me? The book came home with me and you guessed it, it has sat on the shelf unread ever since until now…
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: I have no idea why it took me so long to pick up this book but boy am I glad I did, this is one of those books I can give a one word review and that word is “Beautiful”. This is everything a book should be it tackles complex relationships, family issues, all kinds of love and asks the questions how well do you everyone really know someone and how much of yourself is reflected back through the people you love and who love you?
What made me love this book? Firstly it’s the language, the author really captures the emotions of love and grief in a way that is almost poetic:
“I felt like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof that there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds if you want them to be there.”
“I understood right then that I would never know the real story of Toby’s life. There was no other time. Everything between Toby and me was in the here and now. That’s all there was.”
Secondly the descriptions of art – I will never look at a work of art in the same way again. I will always be looking for how the artist makes use of the “negative space” and what that can tell the viewer about what they are trying to say.
And lastly the characters I defy anyone not to fall in love with June. I think every reader will see a small part of themselves reflected in June, I know I did. I know some readers don’t like first person narratives but honestly I am sad that my time in June’s head is over. While June is the main focus I also loved Greta and Toby they are fully formed individuals with their own secrets and flaws and they are completely and utterly believably human.
Who would like this? I would recommend this to those who enjoy family sagas, those who appreciate nuanced characters and who don’t feel like a book has done its job unless you have been reduced to either tears or laughter. Warning keep the tissues handy.