book review

Book Review: Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt

3:13 PM

Summary 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.

Rating: 3.2/5
Tell the Wolves I'm Home, written by Carol Rifka Brunt in first person point of view, is a coming of age novel surrounding June Elbus, the self pitying main character. The book had a brilliantly executed plot, an engaging writing style appropriate for the story, and a fair amount of round characters. What it didn't have, however, were likable characters.

Obviously, the likability of a character does not determine a novel's success from a literary point of view, but it is a very big deal when the novel is written in first person. This is because the entire novel from beginning to end follows this character's thoughts and feelings which makes it very mentally exhausting to read if said character is a pain. June Elbus' most dominant character trait was self pity. This is clearly understandable considering the fact that one of her closest relatives dies. But as a reader reads on, June Elbus goes from an understandably upset teenager to an almost pathetic and whiny character. In addition, she was the type of character whose mantra was 'I'm not like other girls' (without it being explicitly said). But June wasn't the only character who felt sorry for herself. Just about every single main character in the story had a scene in which they expressed their reason as to why their problems were more tragic and pity worthy than June's.  It's simply an annoying trait to read. 

Nevertheless, Tell the Wolves I'm Home did have it's moments. For example, the writing style is very similar to what a reader would see in a young adult novel. At first, it's a bit odd since it dealt with such heavy subjects, but it's actually a very impressive effort. The narrator was barely a teenager, so the the style was appropriate. What's even more impressive is the fact that the teenage voice was there throughout the entire novel. The narrator did not once fall out of her mentality, and that is easily an effort to be commended.

Despite the characters' unlikable personalities, they were all round and complex. June developed and learned a great deal throughout the story, as well as most if not all of the side characters. They all had depth and underlying meanings for their actions and it was endearing to see them unravel and to understand the thought process that lead them to do whatever it was they did.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a good enough book to keep the reader engaged. For some, it's a page turner. For others, it's a difficult read. This book is for all the readers out there who are looking for a tear jerker. 

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