Author: Carol Rifka Brunt
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Random House
Narrator: Amy Rubinate
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
SUMMARY: 1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most..
Sometimes, a story can breathe itself right into you. Your lungs fill with its hope and fall with its heartbreak. Your heart swells with its love and shatters with its loss. Sometimes, a story can deliver words that root so deeply, they become an indistinguishable part of you. Sometimes, a story can do that.
This is one of those stories.
At a glance, you could say this is a book about AIDS -- and it is. A lot can be learned about the initial response to the disease in the late '80's. About dealing with and understanding the tragedy of it. About the who, the how, and the why.
But the most significant message wrapped within the words and silhouetted in the scenes transcends all of that. This important story thoughtfully conveys the value of innocence. So much can be gleaned from the perspective of the young and innocent, from the vulnerable and pure of heart. The overwhelming tenderness and honesty of this book, of June Elbus and all she sees and how she sees it, is not for the faint of heart.
I feel fortunate to have found this gem of a novel.
Highly recommend Kleenex as a reading companion.
Profanity: Mild-None (one S-word)
Sensuality: Mild (kissing, suggested images)
Violence: Mild (brief disturbing images)
Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate (underage smoking, drinking, parties)
This review also appears on Goodreads.