Secrets Revealed

Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel - Carol Rifka Brunt

Sorry, but I'm not gushing over this first try by Carole Rifka Brunt. The 14 year old narrator, June, is quirky (she wants to time travel), lonely, grieving over her uncle's death, and estranged from her "perfect" older sister. This does not make her standout.

June leads a secret life for a few months as she develops a friendship with her uncle's lover, Toby, She finds out about her mother's squashed dreams, petty jealousy and ignorance about AIDs. We find out more about June's mother's poor choices and dashed dreams than we do about the nature of June's relationship with Finn, her favorite uncle, who has concealed his whole gay life from her.

Greta, June's older sister, is seemingly perfect, but of course she has secrets of her own. All of this drama plays out in a Westchester suburb in the 80's. It is a tempestuous time because of AIDs and teens who are getting involved in harder drugs and are experimenting with sex at even younger ages. I find the dialogue between the teens very false. There are virtually no curse words, no F U's , bad language at all. Their drinking parties are not shocking or new.

Maybe it's not fair, but this novel does not stand up to Gail Godwin's Flora. There the young protagonist- narrator, is equally quirky, introspective, and lonely after the death of her grandmother. Yet, I found the characters more interesting, not formulaic and the plot much more interesting and unique . You say, Godwin has written many books. Well, what about Harper Lee's debut novel To Kill a Mocking Bird. There, precocious Scout, learns about the towns' secrets and its prejudices which it wears on its sleeves as a badge of honor. Scout is also quirky and a "different" child. Here, the relationships between her and her father, the neighbors, the maid, etc. are well developed and very telling.

My bar is very high. I think of this as YA lit. Tell the Wolves I'm Home has an interesting and alluring title. I don't think the story or the writing lived up to this title or the rave reviews.se