Five words from the blurb: family, friendship, life, AIDS, death
I first heard about Tell the Wolves I’m Home in November last year. I went to meet publicists from Pan Macmillan and they were all raving about this book, despite the fact it wouldn’t be published for another 7 months. I have to admit that I was sceptical – the blurb didn’t sound anything special and I’ve read so many coming-of-age type novels that I rarely find one that adds anything new to the genre. On this occasion I was wrong. Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a fantastic story and I’m pleased I gave it the benefit of the doubt.
The book is set in New York during the 1980s and focuses on June, a 14-year-old girl who loves spending time with her Uncle Finn. He is a famous painter, but is dying from AIDS. June must learn to accept life without her uncle and also deal with the secrets that emerge from her family’s past.
June is an amazing character. By the end of the book I felt as though I knew her personally. Her thoughts and emotions were described with incredible clarity, perfectly capturing the turmoil of adolescence. June’s roller-coaster relationship with her sister was particularly well portrayed and I’m sure that anyone who has a sister will relate to many of the scenes described.
The pace of the book was quite slow, but I was captivated by June’s problems. The quality of the writing enabled me to be engaged throughout, despite the relative simplicity of the plot.
This book does a fantastic job of showing the terrible attitude those with AIDS had to endure in the 1980s. Having only been a child in that decade I don’t think I was fully aware of the confusion and misinformation that was spread around during those years.
If you enjoy reading vivid, emotional stories about families in conflict then this is for you. The beautifully rounded characters will stay with me for a long time.