Literature / Tell the Wolves I'm Home

"That's the secret. If you always make sure you're exactly the person you hoped to be, if you always make sure you know only the very best people, then you won't care if you die tomorrow."

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is Carol Rifka Brunt's debut novel, published in 2013.

June Elbus is fourteen, shy, introverted, and fascinated by history, especially the Middle Ages. She takes solace from the present in walks in the woods in medieval boots and Gunne Sax dresses, and the only person who really understands her is her Cool Uncle, famous painter Finn Weiss. At the beginning of the novel, Finn is dying of a mysterious disease that nobody seems to know anything about, and before he dies he paints a portrait of his nieces June and her estranged older sister, Greta. When the disease finally kills him, his remaining family members have to pick up the pieces - and June is the most broken up about it of all. But what Finn's death does give her is the acquaintance of a stranger, Toby, who asks to meet up with her. As June grows closer to Toby, there are lessons learned about family, forgiveness, and moving on.

Tropes found in this novel include:

  • The Ace: Greta is beautiful, so smart she skipped a grade, apparently really good in theater, and is popular in school. This weighs heavily on her sister June.
    • Broken Ace: Really, though, she only became like that because she missed her sister.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
    • June to Finn, especially after discovering that Toby and Finn were in a relationship, because this meant that there was an aspect of Finn's life she wasn't privy to.
    • As it turns out, Greta was one to June as well; she was jealous that June and Finn had grown so close over the years.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Greta.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: AIDS, justified due to the time period. Nobody wants to talk about Finn dying of it.
  • Fan of the Past: June is obsessed with the Middle Ages.
  • Generation Xerox: Two siblings who used to be incredibly close, but eventually grew apart as one found someone else to share solace with while the other was unhappy with their lot in life? Not just Greta and June.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: We are introduced to Greta as the "pretty" one and June as the "smart" one, although Greta (who skipped a grade) is more intelligent than June. It turns out that neither sister actually wanted their relationship to end up that bad.
  • Jerkass Fašade: Greta
  • Misblamed: Toby didn't give Finn AIDS as Danielle and Greta said.
  • Parents as People: Danielle especially.
  • The Resenter: All over the place.
    • June resents Toby for representing an aspect of Finn's life she never knew about.
    • June's mother, Danielle, resented Finn for being able to go and live the life of an artist that she never got to, instead ending up an accountant in the suburbs.
    • Greta resented Finn for being so close to June, and almost sees his death as an opportunity to get close to her sister again.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Greta is gregarious while June is quiet.
  • Secretly Dying: Toby has AIDS.
  • Straight Gay: Finn and Toby.
  • Unnamed Parent: June and Greta's father is never named.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Greta and June used to be extremely close; as they grew older it turned into The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry.
  • Workaholic: June and Greta's parents who are both accountants; justified as the story is set in the early months of the year (also known as "tax season").