Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Revisited) by Carol Rifka Burnt


“I thought how that was wrong and terrible and beautiful all at the same time.”
― Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home

This quote is exactly how I felt about this book. There is no doubt that this will go down as an all time favorite of mine. What a powerful read for me. I want to go out and buy multiply copies and give it to all the people I love. I want to hand out copies to complete strangers. I want just one person to read it and then turn to me and say, “I understand what this book means to you, I feel it too.”

I usually start a book and it’s easy enough for me to tell if I am going to like it or not. I can tolerate an okay story if the writing is “quote worthy.” It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I can get lost in words if the author writes them in a lyrical way. This book was no exception. I fell in love from the start. This book sang to me! As I read along I loved the writing I was witnessing. Yes, I was not just reading words on a page….I was feeling as if I was present in Brunt’s imagined world. However, at the same time, I thought, this is a really a pretty cool book and I’m really enjoying it, but there’s no way I will be able to review it. The story was too hard to put into words. Many times, as a book goes along I lose some of my passion for it. As I went further along in this book, I was surprised to find that my love for the book was not easing off. In fact, my love for it was growing in leaps and bounds. My despair at trying to figure out how to start a review also changed. Now the story wasn’t too hard to put into words, it was simply too big! How could I encompass all the emotions that this book evoked from me and put it into mere words?

“Proof that there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want them to be there.”
― Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Brunt has masterfully given us so many stories on top of stories here. Is this a story about the ignorance of AIDS in the 80’s and the assumptions people made born out of that ignorance? Is this a story of family rivalry? Or of family love? Is it a story about the bond between sisters? Is it a coming of age story of a single young girl? Or is it the story of two lonely people that find a way to hold on to one another to overcome life’s grief? Is it about courage? Or sorrow? Loneliness? Acceptance? Regret? Acceptance?

“She was wired into my heart. Twisted and kinked and threaded right through.”
― Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Brunt has somehow taken these separate amazing stories and twisted and kinked and threaded them right through the reader’s very heart and made them into one… does one do that? How is it possible for this to be a debut novel? Surely there must have been bit of magic involved!

What strikes me most about this book is just how well Brunt was able to capture what being a teenager was like for me. I felt as if I had traveled in some time machine….that I was transported back to my own life as a teenager….forced to re-live all those thoughts and fears I had. I remember all those same feelings that June and Greta were feeling. The self-doubt. The selfishness of not being able to see the world beyond how it affects me. Ultimately this was June’s story and we only had her viewpoint to follow. This story could have read so differently if it had been Toby or Greta’s voice that we heard. Some parts of me wish it had been the type of book that was told from multiple viewpoints. That feeling came from my own personal greed. I was so able to climb inside the character of June. I wish I had been allowed to also climb further inside the characters of Greta and Toby as well. How different my life might had been had I been privy to their thoughts and insights at the time…it really is something when an author is able to transport you to another place and time….to make you feel as if you are no longer a reader, but instead, you are present, living this story, just as if it were your own…..

Please don’t let all the hype and the great reviews of this book deter you from giving it a chance. Sometimes you run across a book that not only lives up to all the hype….to a book that truly deserves all the hype….sometimes you also run across that a book totally and completely captivates you and takes you by surprise…..

This is that book! Read it! I dare you to!


Buy It Now Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt


4 stars

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is about two teenage sisters navigating through their grief after their uncle’s death. A portrait he painted of them is both their preparation for his death and their therapy as they mourn.

The author did a wonderful job getting me to believe June’s life. Reading this book put me right there with her, back at 14 years old, watching drama club rehearsals and not knowing how to relate to boys. I felt like June was a girl I knew, someone I went to school with and hung out with on half-days, sketching or writing poetry in a notebook, trying to figure out how to express ourselves in a grown-up world.

I felt June’s confusion and sadness, her frustration with her sister, her search for an identity. The writing was so authentic, the emotional part of the story was very believable.

A few particulars in the story tripped me up. A 13-year old traveling from Westchester to Manhattan alone, or befriending a virtual stranger so quickly, or driving many miles in the middle of the night without a license seems too far-fetched. Maybe it’s because though I grew up in the same decades June did, I didn’t live in Westchester. I don’t know, but some actions just didn’t ring true.

It was those little implausible details that prevented me from being totally immersed in the story. As soon as I was about to lose myself in it, something unrealistic would jolt me out of the magic.

Still… I laughed and I cried – a sure sign of a good book. The sister relationship was written flawlessly. The expressions of sadness and love were perfectly conveyed. The writing flowed, and the dialogue was natural. The ending … just beautiful. I recommend!


Buy It Now Tell the Wolves I’m Home