by Carol Rifka Brunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Immediately arresting with fascinating characters. I particularly related because it was set in 1987 when I was in high school. The fourteen-year-old narrator is excellent but unreliable because of her immature and limited viewpoint. The eighties authenticity was well-executed especially regarding early reactions to the AIDS epidemic. The way each of the characters dealt with grief and loss felt quite real. This book is definitely a character-driven story where the relationships ARE the story. Bits and pieces of the story felt somewhat contrived, but it was still well-done and immensely readable. The reactions of our book group varied. Some thought it dragged a bit. Others never finished. But most liked the book. We disagreed on the reliability of the narrator and the motivations of the characters. All of which made for a great discussion. As for the wolf imagery, was it symbolic of society’s reaction to AIDS or did it have more to do with family rivalries? Maybe it was both.
“I’d run from the train station right across town, and it had felt like maybe I was running for my last chance at being normal” (p. 90).
“I stared hard, trying to find a pattern. Thinking if I kept looking hard enough, maybe the pieces of the world would fit back together into something I could understand” (p. 154).