Students sometimes offer the best book recommendations. I had a handful of hardcore readers who graduated last year who were always giving me great books to read. When these ladies all read Tell the Wolves I’m Home and loved it, I put it on my to-reads list. That it was published in 2012 and still has a waiting list to get it at the library was a sign to me that it was going to be a good read.
I found the book particularly powerful as it took place in 1987, and the main character, June, was 14, just two years older that I was that year. She finds out that her favorite uncle is dying of AIDs and she has to navigate everything scary about losing a loved one while also trying to understand the gravity of this bizarre new disease. I remember that time period, and the fear and blurriness of AIDs. One of my father’s friends from work died of AIDS, and I remember him fondly from when he came to parties my parents had (he had this amazing blue suede jacket I coveted). I found myself thinking back to the late 80s a lot as I read this–from a historic and a personal perspective. But enough about me–back to the book.
What also stood out to me was the way June had to negotiate the changing relationship she had with her sister Greta. As a younger sister, I could understand how her relationship to her older sibling started to shift as the high school world of parties and drinking and boyfriends and secrets and lies started to intrude on her previously magical world of being a sister. June wishes she could go out into the woods and live in medieval times. At one point she tells another character why: “people didn’t know everything then. There were things people had never seen before. Places nobody had ever been. You could make up a story and people would believe it…also maybe it seems like it would be okay not to be perfect. Nobody was perfect back then. Just about everyone was defective, and most people had no choice except to stay that way.” This book does an amazing job of capturing how it felt to be on the cusp of adulthood and to not understand how or why the adult world works the way it does. It allows June to be a little naive and for us to forgive her for that very naiveté.
I highly recommend this book–it is a fast read but it has some powerful observations about life, relationships, love, and loss. I can assure you, you’ll definitely stay up late to finish reading it.
Posted by Kate, VP Secondary
PS If you haven’t seen Dallas Buyers Club yet, that would be an interesting movie to watch after reading this book to consider the climate of the times in terms of the government allowing access to AZT for those who contracted AIDs during this time period.