Title: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Category: YA Contemporary
Publisher/Date: Simon Pulse/2 January 2018
Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.
But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.
When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.
These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?
From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.
This book has content warnings for suicidal ideation and self-harm.
Wow. I don’t even know where to start with this book. I’ll just go with the words “exceeds expectations” and then try to work from there.
The tension in this book is so thick that you could cut it with a knife. The dueling points-of-view between the twins shows just how much they misunderstand each other, and while it feels frustrating while you’re reading it it also makes their worlds make that much more sense to you. That’s kind of the point — they don’t understand each other, and they don’t know how to interact with each other because they don’t understand each other’s wants and needs. It’s a tense and complicated relationship, and it worked so well.
I loved how central the family as a whole was to the story. Ima and Aba were caring and supportive, and while they didn’t always understand their children they did their best to listen and talk to them (something so often missing in YA). Also, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with bilingual Jewish rep in it and I’m loving it. Ima came to the US from Israel after serving in the Israeli army, and she and Aba speak both English and Hebrew with Adina and Tovah at home. Judaism is explored as both a religion and as an identity, and through the twins (and other Jewish characters like Zack) we were able to see a variety of ways in which Jewish people express themselves, especially as Adina questions her religion while still fully embracing her heritage. As someone who isn’t Jewish, I really loved getting this view of the family.
The mental health issues covered in this book were very relatable to me. I absolutely loved how anxiety and depression were depicted as illnesses that can cause very real physical symptoms in people; this is something that a lot of people tend to forget, and showing that they can be behind symptoms that seemingly point to another illness was refreshing. The portrayal felt very real to me, and it’s heartbreaking. I know little about Huntington’s Disease, but the portrayal appeared well-researched, honest and raw. The prospect of not knowing when you’ll develop a disease is terrifying, and I feel like this was well done.
(If you liked You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and want more teenagers and parents dealing with early-onset illnesses and more Jewish characters (as well as Deaf characters and romance and terrifyingly challenging races), you might want to give Wild by Hannah Moskowitz a try! I definitely kept thinking of that book while I was reading this one.)
I loved how well-developed all of the characters in this book were — not a single character in this book came off as flat to me. The twins themselves were the most well-developed characters I’ve read in a while, and their parents were definitely some of the most well-written parents I’ve read period. The characters felt real and were well-grounded in the setting, and I love when books give me this feeling.
Also, I looked up Rhode Island School of Design’s mascot and I was not disappointed.
This was one of my most anticipated 2018 releases, and I was definitely not disappointed. This is a book that I would love to pick up again in the future!
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars