The newest by book by William Kent Krueger is a departure from his Cork O'Connor mystery series. This book, although listed as a mystery with elements of that genre, is more of a literary coming-of-age story set in small town New Bremen, Minnesota told through the eyes of thirteen year old Frank Drum.
The story, set in the summer of 1961, is filled with love, death, murder, relationships, the power of family and friends, and the power of grace. It's a beautifully written novel by an author who gets better with each book.
The setting is New York city in 1987. The AIDS epidemic is rampant, and has personally touched the quiet suburban lives of 14-year-old June Elbus and her family. June's beloved Uncle Finn, a famous but reclusive artist, has died of AIDS. June's mother, who was Finn's sister, has forbidden Finn's longtime partner to attend the funeral. Mrs. Elbus refuses to speak of this horrible illness that her brother has died of far too young, leaving June grief-stricken and desolate. June was a very unusual teenager who fantasized about living in the Middle Ages. Typically dressing in long skirts and lace-up boots, she lugged around a copy of The Medieval Reader, and planned to be a falconer when she grows up. She felt that her Uncle Finn was the only person alive that understood her and made her feel special. They shared many secrets and special places that they would visit together in New York City. But when Finn died, June discovers an even bigger secret that her Uncle never shared with her - his partner, Toby.
Several days after the funeral, June receives a package in the mail - a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn's apartment, and a note from Toby asking to meet her. After seeing Toby several times, June realizes that he is not the monster that killed her Uncle that her mother has made him out to be. He misses Finn as much as she does, and they form a powerful bond based on their mutual loss and unlikely friendship. From start to finish, with Toby's help, June emerges from a self-absorbed awkward teenager to a mature young adult who has come to understand much about the upside down world she lives in.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a beautifully written, very tender coming-of-age story, which is a first novel for Carol Rifka Brunt. The author does a good job of conveying the mood of the 80s and the frightening specter of AIDS. This is a moving story of love, grief and renewal which will leave you thinking about it long after you've finished it.
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