Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

This novel by Carol Rifka Blunt is fascinating on many levels.  It did take a while to get into but it was well worth the effort.  The entire book is written from the perspective of the 14 year old protagonist, June.  At first I thought she sounded too young and immature for 14, but as the story progressed I realized that one of its best features was watching June mature from a childlike 14 year old to a more jaded but wiser teenager.  The book takes place in the late 80s, when everyone is still trying to figure out what AIDS is all about.  June is very close with her uncle and godfather, a renowned painter, Finn, who is dying of AIDS.  In fact, June considers him her best friend and, after his death, when she's approached by his lover, Toby, she learns there were many complexities in his life that he hid from her including his relationship with Toby and how he really contracted AIDS.  Everyone in her family blames Toby, calling him a murderer and refusing to see him but she's drawn to him and in secret meetings over many months learns the truth about him.  The relationships between June and Finn, June and Toby, and her perception of the relationship between Finn and Toby are also beautifully described and fascinating to watch.  Another interesting theme is the relationship between siblings - June and her sister Greta, and June's mother and brother, Finn.  Finn and June's mother were very close as children and have grown apart due in large part to her reaction to Toby and her fear of AIDS.  Finn sees June and Greta growing apart as they mature and has them sit for a portrait which is his final painting in an effort to immortalize their closeness and thus hoping to preserve it.  There are some funny aspects to the story - like when Toby, June,  their mother and Finn all deface the portrait before learning it might be worth a lot of money.

This is a great book for insights into the maturing of a young girl and interpersonal relationships.

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