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Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Cover of Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

A Novel

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Wall Street Journal

  • O: The Oprah Magazine
  • BookPage
  • Kirkus Reviews
  • Booklist
  • School Library Journal

    In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don't know you've lost someone until you've found them.

    NATIONAL BESTSELLER
  • NAMED A FAVORITE READ BY GILLIAN FLYNN
  • WINNER OF THE ALEX AWARD

    1987. There's only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that's her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn's company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June's world is turned upside down. But Finn's death brings a surprise acquaintance into June's life--someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

    At Finn's funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn's apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she's not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

    An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.

    Praise for Tell the Wolves I'm Home

    "A dazzling debut novel."--O: The Oprah Magazine

    "This compassionate and vital novel will rivet readers until the very end. . . . The narrative is as tender and raw as an exposed nerve, pulsing with the sharpest agonies and ecstasies of the human condition."--BookPage

    "Tremendously moving."--The Wall Street Journal

    "Transcendent . . . Peopled by characters who will live in readers' imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt's novel is a beautifully bittersweet mixture of heartbreak and hope."--Booklist (starred review)

    "Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

    "Touching and ultimately hopeful."--People

    Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.
  • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
    The Wall Street Journal

  • O: The Oprah Magazine
  • BookPage
  • Kirkus Reviews
  • Booklist
  • School Library Journal

    In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don't know you've lost someone until you've found them.

    NATIONAL BESTSELLER
  • NAMED A FAVORITE READ BY GILLIAN FLYNN
  • WINNER OF THE ALEX AWARD

    1987. There's only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that's her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn's company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June's world is turned upside down. But Finn's death brings a surprise acquaintance into June's life--someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

    At Finn's funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn's apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she's not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

    An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.

    Praise for Tell the Wolves I'm Home

    "A dazzling debut novel."--O: The Oprah Magazine

    "This compassionate and vital novel will rivet readers until the very end. . . . The narrative is as tender and raw as an exposed nerve, pulsing with the sharpest agonies and ecstasies of the human condition."--BookPage

    "Tremendously moving."--The Wall Street Journal

    "Transcendent . . . Peopled by characters who will live in readers' imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt's novel is a beautifully bittersweet mixture of heartbreak and hope."--Booklist (starred review)

    "Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

    "Touching and ultimately hopeful."--People

    Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.
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    • Chapter One

      My sister, Greta, and I were having our portrait painted by our uncle Finn that afternoon because he knew he was dying. This was after I understood that I wasn't going to grow up and move into his apartment and live there with him for the rest of my life. After I stopped believing that the AIDS thing was all some kind of big mistake. When he first asked, my mother said no. She said there was something macabre about it. When she thought of the two of us sitting in Finn's apartment with its huge windows and the scent of lavender and orange, when she thought of him looking at us like it might be the last time he would see us, she couldn't bear it. And, she said, it was a long drive from northern Westchester all the way into Manhattan. She crossed her arms over her chest, looked right into Finn's bird-­blue eyes, and told him it was just hard to find the time these days.

      "Tell me about it," he said.

      That's what broke her.

      I'm fifteen now, but I was still fourteen that afternoon. Greta was sixteen. It was 1986, late December, and we'd been going to Finn's one Sunday afternoon a month for the last six months. It was always just my mother, Greta, and me. My father never came, and he was right not to. He wasn't part of it.

      I sat in the back row of seats in the minivan. Greta sat in the row in front of me. I tried to arrange it like that so I could stare at her without her knowing it. Watching people is a good hobby, but you have to be careful about it. You can't let people catch you staring at them. If people catch you, they treat you like a first-­class criminal. And maybe they're right to do that. Maybe it should be a crime to try to see things about people they don't want you to see. With Greta, I liked to watch the way her dark, sleek hair reflected the sun and the way the ends of her glasses looked like two little lost tears hiding just behind her ears.

      My mother had on KICK FM, the country station, and even though I don't really like country music, sometimes, if you let it, the sound of all those people singing their hearts out can bring to mind big old family barbecues in the backyard and snowy hillsides with kids sledding and Thanksgiving dinners. Wholesome stuff. That's why my mother liked to listen to it on the way to Finn's.

      Nobody talked much on those trips to the city. It was just the smooth glide of the van and the croony country music and the gray Hudson River with hulking gray New Jersey on the other side of it. I kept my eyes on Greta the whole time, because it stopped me from thinking about Finn too much.

      The last time we'd visited was a rainy Sunday in November. Finn had always been slight--­like Greta, like my mother, like I wished I was--­but on that visit I saw that he'd moved into a whole new category of skinny. His belts were all too big, so instead he'd knotted an emerald-­green necktie around his waist. I was staring at that tie, wondering when he might have worn it last, trying to imagine what kind of occasion would have been right for something so bright and iridescent, when suddenly Finn looked up from the painting, brush midair, and said to us, "It won't be long now."

      Greta and I nodded, even though neither of us knew whether he meant the painting or him dying. Later, at home, I told my mother he looked like a deflated balloon. Greta said he looked like a small gray moth wrapped in a gray spider's web. That's because everything about Greta is more beautiful, even the way she says things.

      It was December now, the week before Christmas, and we were stuck in traffic near the George Washington Bridge. Greta turned around in her seat to look at me. She gave me a twisty little...

    About the Author-
    • Carol Rifka Brunt's work has appeared in several literary journals, including North American Review and The Sun. In 2006, she was one of three fiction writers who received the New Writing Ventures award and, in 2007, she received a generous Arts Council grant to write Tell the Wolves I'm Home, her first novel. Originally from New York, she currently lives in England with her husband and three children.

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      Random House Publishing Group
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