1 of 1 members found this review helpful.
“I really liked this book. I thought it was very impressive, being the first novel written by this author. As a piece of debut fiction, IMHO, it's stunning.
It's the late 80's, and June, a 14 year old girl, has lost her uncle Finn to AIDS. She and Finn were very close (in fact the reader is lead to question for much of the book whether June *loved* her uncle or was *in love* with him). The tragedy is made manifold by the fact that Finn was a much revered painter, leaving the art world bereft a luminary. The last thing Finn ever paints is a mysterious portrait of June and her somewhat estranged sister Greta.
But despite her closeness to Finn, she never knew that for as long as she'd known him, he'd had a partner, Toby. After Finn's death, Toby reaches out to June. June is hesitant. She's been told Toby is responsible for giving Finn AIDS, and if that's true, is Toby as good as a murderer? But if Toby were despicable, why would Finn love him? And if who we love is an integral part of who we are, did June even know her uncle at all?
Although Finn dies at the beginning of the book, he, and his relationship with Toby, are the crux of the story, all action stemming from how June (and the rest of her family) reacts to them, and interacts with them, which I think meets the qualifications for "queer soul." Also, I think the book does a beautiful job of demonstrating how devastating the AIDS epidemic truly was, how a senseless disease can rob the world of wonderful people, and how unjust that is.
I found June to be a likable and interesting character. She's fascinated by the middle ages, has aspirations to be a falconer, flirts with a teenage D&D master, and regularly fantasizes about time travel. Toby too utterly charmed me, with his British sensibilities, disheveled appearance, and self-effacing mannerisms. I actually thought all the characters were strong and dynamic.
I found the text to be at times achingly emotional, at other times cinematically descriptive. While the ending isn't happy per se (how happy can a book be when it's set in the '80's and some of the heros have AIDS?) I thought it was satisfying. (And yes. I cried.)
I'm really looking forward to hearing others' opinions, as they roll in :) ”
Tess wrote this review Monday, August 6, 2012.