TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME by Carol Rifka Brunt popped on my radar after the ALA 2013 Awards in January. The book won a 2013 Alex Award. The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. Other books I’ve read and enjoyed on the 2013 Alex Award List include: ONE SHOT AT FOREVER by Chris Ballard which is the true story of the Macon, Illinois baseball team in the early 1970’s and how they conquered all odds to advance to the State playoffs. This one was especially fun to read as my family has ties to Macon, Illinois.
TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME is a beautifully written story about fourteen year old, June, who has just lost her beloved Uncle, Finn to AIDS. The book takes place in 1987 when the ignorance of AIDS was running it’s full course. I was a Junior in high school in those years, and I remember the time well. No one quite knew how you got AIDS and there was fear everywhere. Could you get it from drinking out of the same water fountain at school? What if you touched someone who had AIDS? Would you suddenly contract the disease? There wasn’t sex education about AIDS, there was fear about AIDS. Scary news for a generation of us who were just coming of age sexually in those times!
But, TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME is more than just a story about AIDS. The story is about loss and how one family copes with that loss. There is the sister relationship between June and her older sister, Greta, who is going to parties, getting drunk, and burying herself in leaves under June’s favorite tree–waiting for June to find her. It is the story of the relationship between June and her Uncle’s partner, Toby, who everyone calls a murderer and believe he gave AIDS to Uncle Finn. And what ties this story together is the picture Uncle Finn painted of June and Greta before he died.
TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME is a character driven story. It’s not a story with high stakes, high plot. It’s a story based on the emotional journey of characters. I enjoyed the references to the music of the late 80’s, the clothing, and some of the food-June eats a lot of Doritos! I highly recommend TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME for those readers who are high school or older. It’s a book I would use if teaching a college level class in writing for young adults.