For some reason it has been increasingly difficult for me to find books where the main relationship for the teenage female protagonist is not a goddamn all-consuming romance. Not that I'm saying that romance is bad, because it can be wonderful, but I was just getting sick of that type of book, especially after hearing old classmates exasperating about their publishers forcing them to shoehorn it in their manuscripts (like what happened with The Hunger Games trilogy). Thankfully, Tell the Wolves I'm Home fell into my lap.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home tells the story of fourteen year old June Elbus, a girl who just wants to wear her boots in the woods and pretend she is in the middle ages, and how her life is altered once her favorite person, her Uncle Finn, succumbs from AIDS in 1987. After Finn dies June meets Toby, her uncle's boyfriend of nearly ten years that she never knew he had, and tries to keep their growing friendship clandestine from her family. Carol Rifka Brunt brilliantly tackles the complexities of the relationships June has with the people in her life, how they can change in equally wonderful and terrible ways. For me, the stand out relationship examined is the one between June and her big sister Greta, who is hurting just as much as June, but for different reasons. It is a testament to Brunt that she never shied away from letting Greta be just as complicated as June, instead of just staying the flat "Mean Big Sister" trope, which as the older sister in my own family I deeply appreciate.
This book made me ache with nostalgia, not for the setting (I wasn't even born yet) but at the memory of losing certain parts of yourself that happens with growing up, or how learning one thing about a person can change the way you view her forever. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a stunning read, and if you can deal with the aches, you'll find yourself seeing the beauty through the pain, just like sunshine after the rain. 5 out of 5 stars.