Do you remember being a kid? I remember when time felt infinite and space was not bound by walls. I remember when a daydream was as real to me as a trip to the grocery store with my Mom.
Part of the growing up process means transitioning from that place to one where the reality of time and space crushes you.
“After a snowstorm is one of the best times to be in the woods, because all the empty beer and soda cans and candy wrappers disappear, and you don’t have to try as hard to be in another time. Plus there’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special, even though you know you’re not.” – Chapter 7
Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a novel about just this – a young girl transitioning from the wonder of girlhood to the hard realities of adulthood, accomplished by the heartbreak of losing an uncle to AIDS in the mid 1980s, when the AIDS crisis is confusing enough to all of society, let alone a pre-teen girl.
“Not only because Finn had never told me about this guy, but because there was no way to ask him about it. And until then I don’t think I really understood the meaning of gone.” – Chapter 13
There’s something really beautiful and heartbreaking about watching a young character be hit with the realities of our world while still holding onto the magical dreams and imagination that defines children. This is one of the reasons why Tell The Wolves I’m Home is such a hard book to put down. I could place myself in the shoes of this daydreamer girl, and I felt her throughout the story. In fact, I had a really hard time analyzing this book as I read because I was really swept into the story and the characters.
“I wasn’t interested in drinking beer or vodka or smoking cigarettes or doing all the other things Greta thinks I can’t even imagine. I don’t want to imagine those things. Anyone can imagine things like that. I want to imagine wrinkled time, and forests thick with wolves, and bleak midnight moors. I dream about people who don’t need to have sex to know they love each other. I dream about people who would only ever kiss you on the cheek.” – Chapter 14
This story is not written for plot. It isn’t boring by any means, but it manages to be engaging through the fascinating characters. As a reader, you want to get to know them better, to understand more about their story and what motivates them. The conflict happens between the characters, and so does each beautiful resolution. There’s misunderstanding and the relief as characters begin to knit themselves (back) together.
As readers we are brought to a time and a place where a disease is confusing and scary and our assumptions about that disease shapes our interpersonal relationships. It forces us to consider what assumptions we currently make that cause us to see people as separate from their personality and their worth. Because so often, in the midst of those assumptions and hurt and pain and fear, we fail to see how we are actually causing more hurt and more pain and more fear.
“all the jealousy and envy and shame we carried was our own kind of sickness. As much a disease as Toby and Finn’s AIDS.” – Chapter 65
And in the midst of all this is that little girl being hit hard with the realities of the world. She begins to understand that life is not infinite, that time is one directional, and that escaping isn’t as easy as returning to the depths of your imagination.
“Probably the longest day of my life. I felt like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof that there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want them to be there” – Chapter 23
Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a book that I wasn’t able to put down. While I did want more from it as I was reading (I don’t know what – maybe some more clearly developed themes?) it was a beautiful story of growth and understanding. Because of that, I don’t hesitate to rate this novel a 4/5, which means I really liked it.
Have you read Tell The Wolves I’m Home? What did you think?
Moms Reading (or, #MomsReading) is a book club designed for busy Moms in mind. It is an online book club that meets once a month on Facebook to discuss that month’s book. Check out the MomsReading page, Like us on Facebook, or join the Goodreads group to keep up to date with our book choices and the book chats.
August’s book club meets Wednesday night, August 27 (TONIGHT!) when we’ll be discussing Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Tune in and join the discussion at 9pm Eastern on Facebook. If you haven’t yet read Tell The Wolves I’m Home, then start reading our September book! We will be reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The discussion will take place on Wednesday, September 24th at 9pm Eastern.
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