When it comes to friendship and love, what is okay, what is wrong? How can two unlikely friends take care of each other, and what are the boundaries? These are some of the central questions in Tell the Wolves I’m Home, an unusual story about a family that is coping with the death of Finn Weiss, a famous artist and gay man, brother and uncle to the family, who has died of AIDS. The story is set in Westchester, New York, in 1986, during a time when little was known about the disease and much was feared. June Weiss, Finn’s niece, is fourteen, a solitary girl who is trying to make sense of her own place in the world and of her close relationship to Finn. This strong bond has all but ruined June’s relationship with her older sister Greta, a smart and talented high school senior, headed for college in just a few months.
The family dynamic is a major theme in this well-written story, especially between June and Greta. The plot revolves around Finn’s final painting, a portrait of June and Greta and the family’s reaction to it. When June meets Finn’s lover, Toby, a man who has been kept a secret from her while Finn was alive, the two develop a strange and unconventional, highly-charged relationship.
I enjoyed a great deal about this book. It’s well-structured and moves at an engaging pace. It’s a complicated story and it’s sometimes sweet. There’s a little bit of mystery and magical feel to it. But there are also many things that make it uncomfortable, strange and creepy. June seems to be uncontrollably propelled, or maybe pulled into a friendship with Toby, but either way, the risks are enormous and her decisions are hard to understand.
The best part of the story is the painting and how it becomes a way for the characters to communicate. I also think the relationship between sisters is the best part of the dynamic and I hoped for a reconnection between the two. I had trouble understanding the rest of the relationships, but it’s definitely a book that makes you think, and that’s why I enjoyed it.
Thanks to my friend Dawn for recommending Tell the Wolves I’m Home and for being my guest blogger. Click here to read her review. If you’re a book clubber, it’s a good choice. Some of you will love it and some of you will not, all-in-all a great discussion book!
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