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Carol Rifka Brunt – Tell The Wolves I’m Home

Posted in Book reviews, and Fiction

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a coming-of-age novel set in 1980s in New York, just in time of the outburst of AIDS within the LGBTQ community. By then, a little was known about such insidious virus, so when a teenage girl June finds out that her favorite uncle has suddenly died, she’s devastated. Not only she doesn’t understand the whole thing, but doesn’t even know her uncle had lots of secrets: among them his partner Toby, who, all of sudden, becomes a crucial person in her life.

Apparently, I appreciate a very good fiction about family dynamics. For me, it’s important to see characters which are reliable; whom I may love, whom I may dislike very much, but everyone needs to feel real in some way or the other. And Tell the wolves I’m Home is an exceptional novel from exactly this reason. There are many characters, all of them wishing for the best but are too flawed. Tell the wolves I’m Home could be almost called a love story: it portrays love within the marriage, siblings and other family members; and importantly, it shows off love between homosexuals, which is not that different from heterosexual love, even though many may still think so. Plus, I really appreciate that Carol has decided to include love, which maybe has exceeded regular appreciation for a family member, but maybe just because there wasn’t anyone else who could understand a lonely soul, who over time has lost her best friend; her sister.
Another incredibly important point Carol made, was about how being dismissive about forms of love which doesn’t compel the idea of heteronormativity, is nothing else but poisonous and harmful from many reasons. In the end, we all deserve love and to be understood. For someone it takes time to understand, to allow this idea to be truth, and meanwhile for someone else on the other side it may be unfortunately too late. Carol also managed to incorporate grief as the main part of the whole book, which is great. We still have to work on grief acceptance; it is part of our lives and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Even though many people find this book highly emotional, for me it was probably the last part what touched my heart. It made me sad, angry and disappointed the most – probably because it has shown how one stupid decision or hypocrisy can completely change someone else’s life. On the other hand, there were times when I became dismissive to the actions of the main characters, as they seemed to me little bit too unlikely to happen (or not).

There are tons of reasons why reads this book: it’s a meaningful reminder on how we should strive not to judge people, but rather understand and reach out. It also stresses the fact that even if someone is successful, it doesn’t need to make them happy, but on the contrary. In this success-driven society it’s almost impossible to acknowledge that sometimes, when dreams come true, they are not exactly the ones we have envisaged for ourselves. Nevertheless, even then it’s important to have emotional support.

Oh yeah, and this:

I really wondered why people were always doing what they didn’t like doing. It seemed like life was a sort of narrowing tunnel. Right when you were born, the tunnel was huge. You could be anything. Then, like, the absolute second after you were born, the tunnel narrowed down to about half that size. You were a boy, and already it was certain you wouldn’t be a mother and it was likely you wouldn’t become a manicurist or a kindergarten teacher. Then you started to grow up and everything you did closed the tunnel in some more. You broke your arm climbing a tree and you ruled out being a baseball pitcher. You failed every math test you ever took and you canceled any hope of being a scientist. Like that. On and on through the years until you were stuck. You’d become a baker or a librarian or a bartender. Or an accountant. And there you were. I figured that on the day you died, the tunnel would be so narrow, you’d have squeezed yourself in with so many choices, that you just got squashed.

You are welcome.

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