Gag. I feel like Brunt tried to create a modern day To Kill a Mockingbird. Sadly, it just came off as a bit weird. The book starts with June Elbus recounting sitting for a portrait with her sister. Her uncle is a famous painter who happens to be dying of Aids. So a barrel of laughs, right from the beginning.June, as the narrator, is both whiney and annoying. I tried to keep telling myself that she is a fifteen year old, and some fifteen year olds can be annoying, but I probably wouldn’t be reading the inner secrets of their souls.
The novel focuses on how June’s world is rocked by her uncle’s death. He was her godfather and the only person she felt who understood her. June’s older sister, Greta, is the object of her mutual disdain and envy. Eventually, her uncle’s partner—Toby—enters her life (creepily, I might add) to add further drama and confusion. June feels like Toby murdered her uncle Finn, but Finn asked June to take care of Toby because he didn’t have anyone. Unfortunately, Toby is also dying of Aids, and did I mention the novel takes place in 1987?
Brunt’s writing style isn’t bad. The book was readable, but the story was SO awful. So. Awful. In NO world would some creepy guy following around a 15 yr old and arranging secret meetings and constantly asking her if she is scared be charming. It is always creepy. Seriously, my skin crawled the entire time. I get what Brunt was trying to say, about the importance of relationships, particularly those between siblings. Also that reality and the perception of reality are two different things, but the I could not get past the “ick” factor.