A Tale of Two Sisters

February 16, 2017
Parents don’t tell you (even though they should) that it can be hard to grow up with a sister  It means there’s there’s always someone else around, and, whether you’re older or younger, you two are always in each other’s shadows. When the two of you are small, sisters are in-house competition for any family attention and favor. And, because a sister gets to know you well, she can figure out every last thing that annoys you. This is knowledge she uses religiously.  If someone meets your sister first, they may expect you to be a lot like her.  You’re not.  In spite of, or maybe because of their physical proximity, sisters can grow up only seeing how they’re different, believing they have nothing in common except relatives and DNA.  
Ask June Elbus in Tell the Wolves I’m Home how hard it is to have a sister in the house. At one point, Greta seemed like both a sibling and a friend, but now they fight all the time.  They can’t help it; they’re such different people. Greta is self-assured, in high school and a gifted actress.  June’s still in Junior High and shy.  There’s a lot of emotional distance between them and, square in the middle, is their Uncle Finn.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is more than a story of sisters, it’s a tale of the recent past. Finn, as the family artist and June’s Godfather, is bent on painting a portrait of his nieces. June loves spending time with him while Greta wants to stay away.  After all, Uncle Finn is sick and everyone’s worried about the modern plague. Everyone is terrified of catching the HIV virus and the death sentence that comes with it, AIDS. Uncle Finn is dying from AIDS.  
June must sort through the unspoken lies and half-truths she and her sister were told to sort out why Finn’s picture is so important to the world.  Why her mother says Finn’s death is murder. Why a sibling can be so cruel and still understand you better than anyone in the world.

Family and love are works of delicate mystery, as complex and layered as a Bach fugue or modern art. They’re not easy to understand or dismiss.  But they are also the glue that can hold us together when everything else is falling apart. So it can be hard growing up with a sibling. It’s even harder to lose one. Tell the Wolves I’m Home shows why family is important, even at the worst of times.

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