Tell the Wolves I’m Home – reviewed by Hannah Meit

-1 Hannah was a fabulous student in my class last year. Her nickname was Wolf, though I admit I always just called her “Hannah”. We’d had a run on kids wanting animal nicknames, and I’m an old dog, er, teacher, and never managed to switch over from real names for most kids. Regardless, the title seems quite fitting, and the book looks interesting. Great cover, too!

 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt

12875258June’s mother didn’t know what she was doing when she made her brother, Finn, June’s godfather. June was five, and she desperately tried to follow in his footsteps. Finn was a painter, a famous one at that, who was obsessed with everything medieval. As June grew up, she grew into those traits of Finn, too. Her mother would say that she took it a bit too far. June would only wear long skirts to school, along with blouses and old-timey sweaters. She had her treasured black leather boots that Finn gave to her as some of the only shoes she wore. June was closer to Finn than anyone else- or so she thought. Then, her life changed forever.

Finn had AIDS, and his health was declining rapidly. June, now fourteen, desperately tried to hold onto everything she had of him. He offered to paint her a portrait of her and her sister, Greta, to be his last work. Greta, sixteen, is snobby and mean, nothing like she and June used to be. They used to be best friends. Now June envies her sister. Greta is pretty, popular, and dainty, while June sees herself as ugly, unpopular, and clumsy. While the portrait is being finished, Finn obsesses over every last detail up to his death.

June is torn to shreds. While picking herself back up, a month after Finn’s death, she receives a strange call from a strange man who she later finds out was Finn’s significant other. His name is Toby, and he is dying, too. At first she despises Toby, but then they grow together. June has to balance meeting with Toby to talk with keeping him a secret to her family, as he is the one who her mother thinks gave Finn AIDS. Her mother hates Toby with a passion, and blames him for not only giving Finn AIDS but also tearing Finn away from his family. Inwardly, June’s mother had also wanted to be a painter, but her dream never came true like Finn’s did. She needed somebody to blame, and found Toby. Toby has nobody after Finn dies. After overcoming her suspicions, June figures out that she needs to be that somebody for him.

Set in the 1980’s, Carol Rifka Brunt’s debut novel is an adult book. I suggest it only for adults and mature teen readers.

The Book Thief – review by Uma

 

Uma is in my 6th grade literature course. Serious and fun, sweet and clever, this girl is great to have in class. If you read enough of these posts, my adjectives for student do repeat, but she, like her classmates, really is all that. What can I say? I work with great kids.

Uma has chosen to review THE BOOK THIEF, which I affectionately call “The best book I’ll never finish.” The writing is sublime, but I found it so distressing that I couldn’t make myself read the rest. Uma’s review makes me want to grow up and be more like her because I know I’m missing out. Thanks, Uma, for making me reconsider this one.

 

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusakbook_thief

“It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.”-Amazon

In the past, I have read many different historical fiction novels, (it being my favorite genre) but none can compare to the intricate and beautiful story The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The story explores much more than the Holocaust. It explores how humans love and form inseparable bonds in a variety of scenarios, which is a very creative and interesting topic, in my opinion. Some examples are a  Jewish man and the non-Jewish protagonist creating a friendship that lasts through tragedy and separation, or the main character’s foster father teaching her how to read, which begins her book thievery and constant love for this new parent. Narrated by Death, the book tells the story of a little girl growing up in Nazi Germany and how this time period affects her life. Her triumphs, failures and lessons, are hilarious, heartwarming, and touching. The protagonist is also very charming, for although not relatable by modern standards, she is very brave (such as when she reads in bomb shelters to soothe neighbors) and not scared to stand up for herself, and she has a big heart. Lastly, although this is a fantastic book, it is quite mature. There is loads of cursing and it is very violent, so I would probably recommend this for grades 6 and up. But overall, The Book Thief  is a book with complex, interesting storyline and ideas and a fantastic set of characters that will captivate you!