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.
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Published on January 2, 2018 by Simon Pulse
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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I wasn’t ready for this book. Before I began You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone I had thought it would be a heart-warming story but to describe it so would be an understatement. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is so much more than sister relationships and the impact of Huntington’s. It is a beautiful portrayal of Jewish families, religious complexity, growing up, and illnesses – both physical and emotional.
Firstly, let’s talk about Rachel Lynn Solomon’s writing. It. is. haunting. I have no other word to describe it. The sisters, Adina and Tovah, are each uniquely written that, as I moved from one perspective to another, I could definitely notice the change in atmosphere. One could really understand who the sisters were beyond the current narrative and plot. Solomon has an empathetic way of writing, by which I mean that every aspects of characters are illustrated with a deft hand that neither brushes away nor hides their faults. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is memorable because of this, and the relationships which are quite in-depth.
First and foremost, this book deals with the complexity of sister relationships. Using their relationship, Solomon manages to highlight the different was society pressures young women. We have Tovah who is the geeky girl, the hard-worker, and the religious of the two, while Adina is more musically inclined, confident, and the “girly-girl.” However, even though these are clichés used in many contemporary books, Solomon does not let her characters fall into it. Though the girls are not close with each other, and we get shown how jealousy and grudges mar their relationship, still Adina and Tovah remain unapologetic with who they are. Honestly, the portrayal of the sister relationships is so beautiful and Solomon captures that sisterly bond without having Tovah and Adina overly affectionate and open with each other. I enjoyed this part because we think that to have a strong relationship with our siblings we need to know each other inside out but Solomon veers away from that opinion!
Before this book, I didn’t know much about Huntington’s. However, I do believe that the disease – its effects on a person – was adequately represented in this book. Solomon did not describe the sisters as extreme in their reaction to the disease, or how suddenly the family becomes closer because of it. Instead, we’re shown how coping is a messy affair; how healing a relationship is not a straight arrow at all!
To be honest, in a way, I could relate to the diagnosed sister’s reaction to the disease, although for very different reasons. I related to the anger and the destruction her mind inflicted on herself. I’m so happy that Solomon wrote this in her book because I’m tired of the women who blindly accept their fate, who become kindness reincarnated after a tragedy – I wanted the messed up girls, the ones who wasn’t sure of what they were doing but they’d be driving on, I wanted the girls who struggled mentally, who fought and fought – it may sound harmful but we need more representation like this. Solomon, in her way, tells us that it’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to hurt.
But we don’t have to hurt alone. The family relationship in this book is so cute! I love reading about families who place importance on their cultural traditions. Religion was very important in this book, which was interesting. I loved reading about it and learning a little bit more about Judaism. In the book, there is a religious struggle, especially with identity, and I appreciate how Solomon handled this. Neither character was chastised for the way they dealt with their own faith, or lack of it.
You can spend lifetimes searching tragedies for reasons why.
Besides the religious representation, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone had a healthy dose of sex talks, friendships, and romantic relationships. I was pretty amazed with how Solomon handled these topics, although not in-depth she did not gloss over it either. She also shows us societal expectations, especially in regards to how we’re perceived. For example, Tovah as a scholar is expected to achieve a successful career and is constantly complimented for her brain while Adina, because of her looks, is expected to aspire for marriage while her musical career is almost ignored. I cannot emphasis enough how refreshing it was to read this and be like, ‘do you see now? Do you see how harmful your expectations are?’
This entire book is a gift. I consider it a blessing to have had the chance to read this book and be introduced to beautiful literary characters. It may sound sappy but I believe I will always carry these characters and Solomon’s story in my heart.
Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with an electronic review copy via NetGalley! As always, all opinions are my own.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you love books with a focus on sibling relationships?
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