Novel: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon | Buy Here
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
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.
As a twin, I’m always obligated to pick up twin books out of curiosity, and I always want to know how the relationship is depicted. I hadn’t known much about You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone before going into it, only that the cover is gorgeous.
The book opens up with Adina at a viola lesson with the teacher she is perilously attracted to. The heady way with which she describes her intoxication with music entranced me immediately. I love to read about teens who are passionate about what they do.
Adina and Tovah’s relationship was unlike that of me and my sister’s, because they both disliked each other and rarely spoke until the events of the book. They were volatile and snappy, typecasting each other.
I do have to give credit to Rachel Lynn Solomon for capturing the competitive nature of the twins, each overachievers in divergent ways. The perspective switches between the two twins highlighted the ways in which they compared each other. It felt a lot better than most twin books, and had a gorgeous darkness to it.
Adina was a risk-taker, the one who’s angry and sad but never in a way that feels undeserved. She lashed out, often. She buried her grief over her mother’s illness and her uncertain fate in trying to be shocking and harsh. Her distinct and awful self-preservation felt stunning and cold. She was violent about her music, which was lovely to read.
Tovah had a bit of an opposite experience. She made plans. She was logical, but pushed herself. She burned over how Adina was always fawned over as a musical prodigy, aiming to excel. She had an excellent mix of interests on the surface, but was secretly tangled and emotional in ways that reminded me a lot of Adina. Ultimately, the two girls were more similar than they gave themselves credit for.
The language in You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is phenomenal. I absolutely loved the prose, and it enhanced the conflicts in all the right ways.
Additionally, I appreciated and learned a lot from the representation of conservative Judaism in the narrative, especially in ways that the girls’ faiths respectively changed as they dealt with more. One of my close friends, Reut, has taught me a lot about Jewish culture and I appreciate the reverence she has for her religion and her family ties. As a whole, I love when authors incorporate faith (or the lack thereof) into a narrative because it inspires so much curiosity about what the world looks like and acts like.
Culturally, their household breathed Judaism. Small details like Ima’s two years in the Israeli army sound familiar from conversations with Rest and yet foreign to my own upbringing. Observance of Shabbat and kosher food took on profound meanings in the context of the book.
Huntington’s wildly shifted their paths. The mixture of relief/guilt was moving and powerful. The competitive nature of their relationship never changed, although there was more conflict. Neither girl was in the right, and that made the story so much better/worse. They’re nuanced and unlikable at times. It’s a coming-of-age at its core.
Additionally, the girls dealt with “normal” high school issues, told in a refreshing way. For one, they both had to figure out where they’re going to school. Tovah has a dream school; Adina’s more scattered than her, but still ambitious in a way directly attached to her music. They both had to navigate friendships — which ones were real and helpful, which ones were going to fall apart after high school — as well as potential new romances. I loved the questions that each of these spheres brought up in the formation of their respective identities, and how their paths tangled based on external factors that the other one never knew.
As a note, this is sophisticated YA. More adult content, with issues that capture a lot of uncertainty about the future, as well as dealing with familial balances. Character-driven to the max, but still had vivid scenes and circumstances.
Throughout the book, Ima’s condition worsens. Seeing small slips in memory, and ways in which their household continually adjusted to deal with the struggle, was nothing short of heartbreaking. I loved the balance of the closeness each girl had with their parents (each one favoring a different parent) and how it caused tensions with each other; additionally, they carried on more intricate lives that their family didn’t know about.
Maybe this book hurt so much because of my twin identity, and how tight Hannah and I are. Most experiences the girls had — good conversations or screaming matches — have inevitably come up for us over years. Even Hannah knowing her school choice before I did (she decided around February while I didn’t know where I was going until May 1) resonated with me in viewing Adina and Tovah’s choices. Bits of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone echo.
When I read a book that does so well on so many different fronts, I file it away as one of my best of the year. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone definitely deserves that. It surpassed all my expectations, and made me cry for much longer than I’d care to admit.