Carol Rifka Brunt’s astonishing first novel is so good, there’s no need to grade on a curve: Tell the Wolves I’m Home is not only one of the best debuts of 2012, it’s one of the best books of the year, plain and simple ... In a literary landscape overflowing with coming-of-age stories, Tell the Wolves I’m Home rises above the rest. The narrative is as tender and raw as an exposed nerve, pulsing with the sharpest agonies and ecstasies of the human condition. Exploring the very bones of life—love, loss and family—this compassionate and vital novel will rivet readers until the very end, when all but the stoniest will be moved to tears. If Brunt has managed to produce this stunning novel on her first attempt, there is no telling just how far her star will rise.
The novel provides an earnest look at the burdens of choice and the fear of missed opportunities, all while weaving a beautiful portrait of the complicated relationships between family members ... Brunt weaves a terrific coming-of-age story, painting a vibrant picture of June’s dreams and insecurities as she teeters on the border between childhood and maturity ... The complexity of the relationship between June and her older sister Greta provides the book’s richest material ... The book’s only real weakness comes when June’s narrative changes from the present to some future version of herself looking back on the events ... These interludes break up the action by describing June’s emotions, even though Brunt’s writing already does a good job of showing them. Her maudlin musings come particularly heavily at the end, and reduce the impact of the bittersweet climax. But the impact of the rest of Brunt’s novel makes this a striking first outing.
The over-harvested themes of first love and lost souls are plucked and shaken up in Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt’s hugely intelligent and moving debut novel ... Through the eyes of 14-year-old June and the language of a talented author, these twin themes are almost exquisitely painful in that inexplicable way a thing of unexpected beauty—a piece of music, a baby’s smile—can pierce your heart and leave you breathless.
In Tell the Wolves I’m Home, first-time novelist Carol Rifka Brunt movingly portrays an adolescent girl’s struggle to comprehend love in a time and a culture under strain as it comes to terms with a complicated disease ... Brunt’s lauded novel, recently released in paperback, offers insight into the complicated web of human emotions. This immensely satisfying tale will remind readers of all ages how much can be gained from understanding another person’s life—and their loves.
Though Brunt’s approach to AIDS and homosexuality is bold, her novel is mostly an extended meditation on 'all the meanness that could come out of loving someone too much.' The plot is never dull, and the convincing emotional climaxes, while overwrought, are appropriate for a narrator of June’s age. Though the book has young adult–novel qualities, with moral conflicts that resolve themselves too easily and characters nursing hearts of gold, there’s enough ambiguity and subtlety to interest a wider audience.
Brunt's first novel elegantly pictures the New York art world of the 1980s, suburban Westchester and the isolation of AIDS ... There is much to admire in this novel. The subtle insight on sibling rivalry and the examination of love make for a poignant debut.