Tell the Wolves I'm Home was my pick for National Readathon Day
It was my mother who stood first. She walked across the room, knelt on the floor next to Toby, and laid her open palm on his head. I watched as she ran her hand over his soft feathery hair, and even thought her back was to me, I think I heard her say, "Sorry." I want to believe that's what I heard. I needed to know that my mother understood that her hand was in this too. That all the jealousy and envy and shame we carried was our own kind of sickness. As much a disease as Toby and Finn's AIDS.
- Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
This was such a simple and powerful passage to me, where so much of what this book had been working toward and developing finally came together in one beautiful and sorrowful moment. The idea of comparing emotional pain and hurt to a disease like AIDS is so incredibly profound. I feel like, so often, we are quick to discount emotional issues, particularly when they stem from relationships. This is especially true of familial relationships, and euphemisms like "my crazy family" can hide years of emotional distress and very real problems.
Narrator June spends so much of this book dealing with the emotional pain that stems from her family. The jealousy, secrets and lies, shame, hurt, the silences - these are her family's currency, motivating everything that they do, how they treat one another, how they view themselves and the world, and everything that they say or cannot say.
It is painful and difficult to see June contending with these deep emotional wounds throughout Tell the Wolves I'm Home, and it is even more painful when she comes to realize her own part in perpetuating these hurts. But claiming these wounds as a disease is such a powerful action. It shows June's depth and maturity, her desire to contend with these issues head on so that they do not continue to erode herself and her family. And I think that is profound. By minimizing these issues, it's difficult to see the deep and very real pain that they cause or to try to break the unhealthy patterns that have come to define how her family relates to each other and the world around them. But if they are like a disease, than they must be fought like a disease: out in the open and with deliberate and aggressive treatment. It will not be easy, and it will probably hurt, but there is a sense that in this moment, true healing can finally begin.