“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, if you want them to be there.”
Tell The Wolves I’m Home is a coming of age story at heart and yet at the same time a deep exploration of the nature of human relationships and at times the unpredictable paths they take us on.
Told through the eyes of quirky adolescent June Elbus whose only real relationship is the one she shares with her homosexual uncle Finn who happens to be dying of AIDS at a period of time where little was known or understood about the disease. Finn’s understanding of June goes beyond the constraints of an ordinary connection, be it her wandering in the woods in his coat or her appreciation of the smaller aspects of life so often overlooked by many others.
The framework of the story revolves around Finns painting of June and her often sardonic older sister Greta. This act of beauty and creation is in stark contrast to the mundane existence of her Tax-accountant parents and the strained relationship that June has with her sister.
Finns passing away rocks June’s foundations and so begins a journey through a desert of self-doubt and questions as to whether she ever really knew Finn, and in turn herself.
June discovers that she is not alone in her loss as the reluctantly allows Finn’s mysterious partner Toby into her picture. June’s family shun his existence for reasons that only unravel as the book progresses. Together the portrait of Finn is slowly pieced together through their exchanging of stories about Finn’s life, about the intimate moments they shared with him and the intricacies of each relationship. It is through these exchanges that a bond that defies convention is formed between the two of them.
This relationship of stories and exchanges follows June to Toby’s deathbed as the only person who really knew the truth about him, and the only person that she could ever share Finn with.
Tell The Wolves I’m Home is also a story of siblings – of sisters. Torn between the past they shared growing up and pull of different currents their relationship has taken now; June and Greta both seek solace privately in the painting Finn has created (now worth a fortune) by altering it. Emotions flow into colours, shape and detail that manifest as a part of the gift their uncle left them. Through the ‘destruction’ of Finn’s painting so does the relationship between June and Greta find a place where their lines once again meet.
Ultimately, June’s story shows us that in death; it’s still okay to be alive and that love matters more than the relationship it takes form in.