I was returning some borrowed library e-books that I wasn't going to read, and somehow Wolves got returned too.
But, so far, it's still on my e-reader. For how long, I don't know. So I guess I better get my reading into high gear and finish it before it disappears. I'm at 42%,so almost halfway. I did put it back on hold, but there's a 4 week wait, so not very helpful.
Read quite a bit yesterday, but was still only 70% done when I went to bed. Then this AM I had an email, telling me the book was ready to borrow. I guess the people ahead of me, passed on it. So I've re-borrowed it, and can now read the last 30% leisurely.
I have mixed feelings about this book, part of me enjoyed it, part thought it was a weak story but at the same time I felt compelled to continue reading.
There was a lot of need and jealousy that turned into bitterness for Greta towards June because of her desire to be number one in June's life. Greta didn't like June having other friends such as Finn and then Toby. The sisters characters were entirely different but both had their insecurities.
I was suspicious of Toby's persistence in wanting to spend time with June, I wondered if maybe it was something sinister but it all became clear when the author revealed that they both had received notes from Finn asking them to look after one another.
I can imagine June thinking she was in love with Finn, all those hormones jumping about together with her need to be loved.
Finn's sister missed out on much with her brother because of her belief that Toby had given Finn aids and was responsible for his death.
It reminded me of the stigma when aids first reared it's ugly head, the fear and anger towards people and just how far we have come.
On the positive side, this book was easy to read - i didn't throw it aside in disgust - too often! At the time this story took place, aids was a killer and associated with abhorrence, guilt and disdain for the sufferers. Although aids is not the subject here, its effect on the family of a homosexual sufferer plays quite an important part. Ignorance is understandable but not easy to read about.
My main criticism when starting the book was that I had to keep checking that the teller of the tale, June, was only fourteen. It sounded more like a frustrated spinster - never been loved, never been kissed - day dreaming about some artist she would like to have known. Well, when starting a book, you never know the difference between fact and fiction till you get to the end (cf Shutter Island!)
The story was melodramatic and at times almost diabolical:
June has a crush on an older uncle, Finn Weiss, an artist who is known to have aids. Normally a teenager will try to keep her feelings hidden from her parents but in this case the uncle himself, her parents and elder sister, Greta all know about “their special relationship” and even encouraged the 2 of them allowing unlimited access! He showed her his possessions and tricks but the truths she didn't learn from him only came into the open after his death. He had been living with a male friend who was also dying of aids, and many of his wonderful ideas, talents and possessions were not his own but had been learnt or acquired from his partner,Toby.
The parents: leave their two daughters to fend for themselves at a certain period of the year when they are overworked and away from home most of the day. But the rest of the time they are present, overprotective, and strict. The mother is still unhappy because she believes that she was just as talented as her famous brother but had to give up all thoughts of a future in painting because of him. She is not happy in her present situation as wife and mother. She wants Greta to leave home and use her talents as a singer/actress when in fact the teenager would prefer to stay at home and enjoy her childhood and the fun she used to have with her younger sister, June. The mother convinces herself that her brother is an innocent victim of aids which was passed on to him by the criminal, Toby, even though the evidence suggests otherwise.
Gretel is talented, unhappy and taunts her sister who has abandoned her to the idolisation of their uncle, whom she also sees as an enemy more than a friend. She takes to drink and is obviously suicidal hiding in the woods by burying herself under leaves.
And the main character June ( ...........: and here we go from the sublime to the ridiculous)? After Finn’s death, she decides to take responsibility for Toby. She does learn more about the important role he played in Finn’s life but makes plans to take Toby back to England whether he wants to go or not, so steals her passport, involves him in rescuing her sister from a suicide attempt, abducts him from a hospital where he is dying and brings him home to her family, who hates him. She is fourteen.
As well as all that, the women in the family - mother and both daughters - on separate occasions take painting equipment into a bank vault to "improve" the valuable family portrait, the last work completed by the artist.
The book just ends in thin air - only managing to tie up a few of the loose ends. Part 2 still to come?
Thinking about my own crushes - yes, I've had a few short-lived daydreams about boys who played football, or the trumpet, boys and girls who could sing beautifully and not need a microphone. But this book reminded me of my very first crush. I was only 4 or 5 years old. The girl in my daydreams was probably 6 or 7. I've no idea what the attraction was, how she looked or what her name was. She was in the top class of my infant school, and I was in the first year. I dreamed that she was dying, and I was taking care of her! Eventually, even though I was so young, I realised the stupidity of my dreams. Why did I want her to die? Once dead, what then? Since you can control daydreams, I blotted out all thoughts of death for my future crushes.
So is this book just a daydream. A 14-year-old has a crush on an older man. She wants to see him regularly and get to know him. So, she dreams that her parents need to work and leave her to her own devices, that her sister is a talented star and will disappear from her life. She wants to look after Finn so invents an illness - aids. At the time this was a death sentence. When, in her dream, he dies, she believes he wants her to look after his partner, so the daydream continues.
And ends, like the book, nowhere.
If this is a coming-of-age book - who managed to grow up? The mother? Or perhaps the wolves? At least we know they were an invention.
Just quickly skimmed both your reviews, but will reread again, and make some comments, when I have more time. Meanwhile, here's my review, written the morning after I finished reading the book
Finished this book last night, and am having difficulty writing a review. Not sure if it’s because it’s been so long since I was 14, or something else.
I did, however, read it qute quickly, as although I didn’t exactly love it, it wasn’t wasn’t a struggle either.
I couldn’t really relate to June or Greta. And, though at times I felt compassion towards Toby, at the same time it bothered me that he introduced 14 year old June to both cigarettes and alcohol, not to mention was spending time with her, knowing her parents would disapprove.
And the parents… I know they were set up as tax accountants so that they’d have a reason to be absent, and oblivious to what their daughters were doing, but they really were clueless. June skipping school, and Greta becoming increasingly more unhappy.
Some of the references to things from the 80’s were enjoyable, like the long curly phone cord that you could stretch to another room. And though the mention of Bon Jovi was a nice surprise, “Bon Jovi shrieking out ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ at the top of the stupid lungs” wasn’t. No wonder I never formed a positive opinion of June!
I had expected to bawl my eyes out when Toby died, but even that didn’t happen.
So I guess I’ll give the book my usual 3 stars out of 5.
I'd forgotten about the alcohol and cigarettes, and South Pacific almost continuously playing in the background adding to the rather depressing atmosphere. No need to read it again Vverna davies
there are other books out there!
. I've skimmed the book again to refresh my ailing memory, dont think I could cope with reading it in full.
I kept forgetting June was only 14, sometimes she acted like a child, other times like a controlling adult. The fact that she thought she could look after Toby, take him to London, did she think he would agree to it. Her wondering if people thought that she and Finn were a couple, a bit disturbing.
I'd also forgotten how irresponsible the parents were until I read your review. As you wrote, encouraging the 'special relationship ', leaving them for long periods to their own devices, not checking up on them.
As for the mother and both daughters going into the vault to add their touches to the painting, as if all three minds would have the same thought, s bit far fetched.
Do you think it could have been the author's intention for us to think it was all a daydream of June's, that hadnt crossed my mind.
I struggled with the review too. When I was reading it I wondered what I would write. I couldn't work out where the book was going or what point it was trying to make.
Such a lot of dysfunctional characters in one book but lije you, I didnt find it a hard read.
: I think having a crush on Finn was one of the only things that June did that seemed believable. And, yeah, definitely a lot of dysfunctional characters.
: As always, you write such well thought out reviews.
When I was writing my review I forgot to mention both the mother, and the daughters, all thinking it was a good idea to add their own touches to Finn's last work. I'm sure the art appraiser thought they were nuts.
And, you're right, it did end suddenly, with a lots of loose ends. And never considered it to be written as a daydream, but with some of the things that happened, it would maybe make more sense.