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.
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Age: mature young adult, Secondary glbt
- Source: owned ebook
- Read from February 17 to 19, 2013
FINAL RATING: ★★★★★/★★★★★
First of all: THIS BOOK MADE ME CRY SO FREAKING MUUUUUUUUUUUCH!!!
Second: My heart is shattered into million pieces.
I was surprised when i saw that this book was shelved as glbt. I didn't expect it though, but now that i have read this book, it makes more sense. It's a passive glbt story. But i highly recommend to everyone to read this one, because it's such emotional roller coaster . I cried in almost every chapter, because most of things that happened were just unfair.
The story is about a girl - June - who is struggling to find her own place in people's hearts. She does not have any friends of her own age, she thinks that her sister Greta hates her, and their parents don't give them any necessary attention. The only person who ever saw her as herself, and who loved her, made her smile and cry, was her uncle and godfather Finn. But, fate had other plan for Finn, given that he contracted AIDS. He is dying and June is painfully aware of it. And she thinks her world is shattered when he passes away, until someone shows that she is not the only one who truly cared for Finn.
"My mother said it [dying] was like a cassette tape you could never rewind. But it was hard to remember you couldn’t rewind it while you were listening to it. And so you’d forget and fall into the music and listen and then, without you even knowing it, the tape would suddenly end."
That someone is Toby - Finn's "secret" lover. June's mother hates him with passion, thinking that it was his fault that Finn died because of AIDS. And, the thing is - June didn't even knew that he existed. But he is the only person beside her that knew as much as she did about Finn. And then....they begin to meet each other.
“Finn didn’t even seem to care that he was dying,” I said. And it was true. Finn was as calm as ever right up to the very last time I saw him.
“Don’t you know? That’s the secret. If you always make sure you’re exactly the person you hoped to be, if you always make sure you know only the very best people, then you won’t care if you die tomorrow.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. If you were so happy, then you’d want to stay alive, wouldn’t you? You’d want to be alive forever, so you could keep being happy.”
“No, no. It’s the most unhappy people who want to stay alive, because they think they haven’t done everything they want to do. They think they haven’t had enough time. They feel like they’ve been shortchanged.”
There are four main characters in this story: June (the narrator), Greta (June's sister), Finn (their uncle and June's godfather) and Toby (Finn's lover). Each one of them was very complex character, including Finn who died early in the story, but we find about him more in the memories of the people who loved him.
June is the main character of this story. She is 14 year old girl who is desperate to find someone who understands her. She did find someone, that special person, and it was Finn. His dying struck her hard because she thought that she will have no one else who would truly understand her in that way Finn did. He was to her more than anyone else ever was. In a way, i understand her, because for a long time, i didn't have anyone either. And then, one person changed my life, and that person is now gone. But, then you understand that your life is not defined by just one person, but by others as well. And that is what she needed the most, even though she didn't say it with words, she wanted someone to care for her and to be with her. And most of all - she needed more memories of Finn, and there is only one person who could have given her all of that. And it was Toby. When she began meeting with him, she mentally hurt him on more occasions, and some of those times, she did it on purpose. That is what i disliked about her the most. But toward the end of the book, she got better, and i started to like her.
Greta is the agressive, reckless, angry, sarcastic and mean. But, inside, she was never like that. She just wanted some attention from her own sister, who spent more time with their Uncle than she did with Greta. And that hurt her deeply. Because of that she began to hate both Finn and June, because they were never around when she needed them. She just wanted to her sister back to her, but she didn't know how to achieve that. And that put her in a lot of situations that turned out more harmful than good.
Finn is a well respected artist, but he quit showing his paintings a long time ago. Before he died, he made a final piece - a picture of Greta and June and called it "Tell the wolves i'm home". Just that picture showed how much Finn loved them both, and that picture has a great deal of influence in the story. It is as important as it's characters. We find a lot about him from the stories Finn and June tell each other.
Toby is the shadow - no one seems to be noticing him. June didn't even know that he existed. Her mother hates him with passion and blames him for "killing" Finn, her only brother. But as the story goes, you notice that there is more to him than it seems, and he is the true gem of this story. Without him, this story wouldn't be as much as heartbreaking as it was. He loved Finn so much - he truly loved him, and to him Finn was his world. Without Finn, he would once again be no one and nobody. But June changes that when she comes into his life,as much as he comes into hers.
“I just thought, maybe we’re supposed to try to, you know, move on,” I said.
Toby glanced up. I thought he’d looked older when I saw him earlier, but now, without the coat, he seemed younger. Shrunk down to nothing. He cocked his head and stared at me with a puzzled expression.
“But where would we move to?”
This story was just so beautiful, so heartbreaking and so emotional. Like i said before, almost every chapter made me cry, and the end of the book made me cry a river. But it was worth every tear and every sad feeling that i had while reading it. The magic of this book was that i could connect with every character, to truly understand them.
Excuse me while i go cry in the corner, because, even though i have read it hours ago, i still think about this book, and i still feel like crying.
And for the end:
“You think there are second chances? Do you? Well, there aren’t. They dart right by, and before you know it . . . before you even know what’s happened they’re just a blur in the distance. And then what? Then what are you supposed to do?
Go read this book. Now.