*Check out http://www.infinitereads.com for other reviews and sundry thoughts!*
Through destruction people grow in Carol Rifka Brunt's debut novel, Tell the Wolves I'm Home. A painting meant to bring siblings together does so only after they deface it. A sister makes peace with her brother through losing him. And hearts heal by breaking.
Fourteen-year-old Junie feels like her world has ended, not because her accountant parents have again turned her into a tax season orphan, or because her big sister Greta has grown snide and aloof, but because Junie's beloved uncle Finn is the latest casualty of an epidemic sweeping mid-1980s America: AIDS. Finn, a prominent artist, introduced Junie to classical music, fostered her love of medieval history and spent long Sundays taking her for outings and sharing secrets with her. With Finn gone, Junie soon learns her uncle also kept secrets from her, like his live-in boyfriend, Toby, whom Junie's family blames for Finn's disease.
Bereft and lonely, Junie receives a surprise message from Toby suggesting they meet, that she is the only person who misses Finn as much as he does. At first, Junie is suspicious of the man her mother claims as good as murdered her uncle, not to mention jealous of his bond with Finn. However, she has no one to confide in--not her busy parents, and certainly not Greta, who has begun subtly vandalizing Finn's final painting, a portrait of the sisters entitled Tell the Wolves I'm Home. When Junie finds a last note from Finn begging her to take care of Toby, her mind is made up.
Soon she's lying to her family and sneaking out of school to meet Toby, and the two strike up a friendship as heartwarming and poignant as it is unconventional and, at times, awkward. Rather than the monster she imagined, Junie finds Toby a gentle, hapless fellow, lost without Finn. Through their meetings, Junie begins to unlock the missing pieces of her uncle's life, from his love for Toby to the root of the rift between him and Junie's mother. However, the friendship quickly grows bittersweet when Junie realizes that Toby is also dying of AIDS, and she is going to lose her newfound friend and last link to Finn.
Filled with lost opportunities and second chances, Tell the Wolves I'm Home delivers wisdom, innocence and originality with surprising sweetness. Its cast of waifs and strays will steal your heart as they show each other the way to redemption.
***This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness Trade Edition. Sign up for this free and awesome newsletter at http://www.shelf-awareness.com for the latest news and reviews! This review refers to an ARC provided by Shelf Awareness.***