Book Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeTell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t as torn-up over this book as some readers seem to have been, but I did enjoy it. For me, it was much less a story about AIDS and its aftermath than it was a story about how family members sometimes repel those they love and need the most. Although I found June to be sympathetic, her character employed just about every YA stereotype possible for the misunderstood teen heroine: aggressively unattractive clothes, total friendlessness, unusual-bordering-on-bizarre interests (“I want to be a falconer when I grow up.”) I can’t help but wonder if all the readers who loved June as a fictional character would find her a little hard to take as a real person. I found Toby, who was quirky but still seemed to want to have a normal life, to be more enjoyable. However, my favorite character was Greta, the supposedly perfect smart and talented older sister who was, of course, mean as a snake. But unlike the usual “mean girl” stereotype, Greta actually emerged as a very complex character–trapped by her own success and finding that everything she had only drove her further away from everything she needed. There are some plot points that stretch believability ( a 16 year old who just got her permit drives into and out of Manhattan at night without incident), and a few parts that dragged (the wandering in the woods scenes could have been trimmed) but overall it was an excellent read for our book group as there is plenty to discuss. We didn’t really settle the biggest debate: what is the significance of the alterations to the portrait and should they have been removed? What do you think?

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