Let me preface this by saying I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority on this book. But I didn’t love it. The premise is great. June is 14 and adores her uncle Finn, who happens to be a world-renowned painter. He’s also dying of AIDS. As his last painting, Finn wants to make a portrait of June and her sister, Greta. After Finn’s death (not really a spoiler, it’s in the Goodreads summary), Finn’s boyfriend, the love of his life, reaches out to June. They are both mourning and need each other.
June and the boyfriend, Toby, form an unlikely bond. All of this is perfectly fine. The plot really didn’t bother me. My big issue with this book is the overused “people keeping secrets” trope. It. Drives. Me. Insane. I just don’t think quality writing should use this as a major plot device. It’s too easy and not very creative. And this ENTIRE book is just people keeping secrets from each other. June and Greta keep secrets from each other. Their mother (Finn’s sister) keeps secrets from them. Finn keeps secrets from everyone. June keeps her friendship with Toby a secret. It is just exhausting. I would much rather read a book about people dealing with grief and being able to lean on each other rather than alone in their grief, not communicating, suffering more.
I know this trope doesn’t bother everyone, but it is a pet peeve of mine. The one books that used this trope and got it right was Everything I Never Told You. And I can’t give you a good reason why it worked in this book. Possibly the writing was more elevated than in most books. Possibly the character’s nationality lead them to keep quiet. Or maybe I was just in the right mood for this book. In any case, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is still worth reading. The story itself is really beautiful.