"Don't you know? That's the secret. If you always make sure you are 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.......It's the most unhappy people who want to stay alive, because they think they haven't done everything that they want to do. They think they have't had enough time. They feel like they've been shortchanged."
These words are from the newly published debut novel Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I liked this book. A lot. It's a death story. It's a life story. It's the story of family, of sisters, of what it means to come of age. It's the story of the early AIDS epidemic and how it damaged families and made people scared. It is a well told story. Finally it is, at its core, a love story.
June's sister Greta is sixteen and much the opposite of June - party hardy, talented singer/actress, and the sister that the 'rents clearly see as the successful one in life. But as June notes, "It is hard to say exactly when we stopped bring best friends, when we stopped even resembling two girls who were sisters. Greta went to high school and I was still in middle school. Greta had new friends. Greta got prettier and I got ...weirder. I don't know. None of those things should have mattered, but I guess they did. I guess they were like water. Soft and harmless until enough time went by. Then all of a sudden you found yourself with the Grand Canyon on your hands."
Through particularly engaging dialogue, Ms Brunt writes a story full of insight, anger, pain, and tenderness. The dialogue moves the story along but here and there you will find wonderful short pieces of wisdom from a 14 year old: "...I fell asleep. The bed was warm and ordinary and perfect, and it had been such a long, long day. Probably the longest day of my life. I felt like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof that there are worlds, and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, in you want them to be there."
In short, I really liked this book. I grew to care about the characters in a way that made me think and feel. I bet you will too.