Review of Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Review: 3 out of 5 stars

This is a charming book in a very young adult novel kind of way. It’s a very easy and quick read, character driven, and a nice balance of angst and growth.

This novel is a story told by fifteen-year-old June in the 1980s, where the death of a beloved uncle from AIDS sends her on a life-changing, soul-searching journey.

There are so many reasons why this should have been classified as young adult. The narrator is only fifteen, with distinctly youthful language and adolescent thought processes. She finds herself grappling with tough life issues without parental help (so typical in YA novels) because her accountant parents are in the middle of tax season, and her life has led her to be estranged from her older sister as well. She struggles with self-esteem and other typical coming-of-age problems like boys, self-identification, and fitting in. Plus, like most YA books, there’s this certainty while reading that everything is going to work out in the end, that the narrator will lose some innocence but gain some wisdom. This let’s us feel safe in following the main characters twists and turns. It’s all just so typical of every other young adult novel, I don’t understand why it isn’t classified as such.

The language and themes are good. Not great, but good. Rarely was I ever taken out of the book, but rarely did I re-read a passage for its beauty either. There’s a nice level of complexity to the characters, but it has its fair share of coincidences, along with a feel that the characters make choices that no one would actually make but which turn out all right in the end. The ending was rather hard to swallow but fit well with the rest of the book.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: “If you think a story can be like a kind of cement, the sloppy kind that you put between bricks, the kind that looks like cake frosting before it dries hard, then maybe I thought it would be possible to use what Toby had to hold Finn together, to keep him here with me a little bit longer” (pg. 78).

Young adult literature can still be excellent reading, and this book is like that. If you looking for a light read, do grab this.

While I have included discussion questions, I found that my questions felt rather simple. Unless you have a book club geared to young readers or you attend a book club that likes to drink a lot of wine, I would pass on this book for most discussion groups.

Click here to see my discussion questions.