Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of the tour for You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon. A story of familial tension, faith vs rebelling against it, and a future with certain hardship, this novel pulled at me from the onset.
Published: 2 January 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Category: Young Adult/Contemporary
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.
Rating: 5 Stars
Caution: scenes of self harm and talk of suicide
Growing up is hard. There are the usual pains that a lot of people expect, such as drifting apart from friends or facing the future that everyone expecfs you to have figured out for post-high school life. Tovah and Adina have something else to worry about: Huntington’s disease, a genetic disease that their mother has and that they have a chance of inheriting.
When the book begins, neither know yet whether they’re positive, but already the crack in their relationship are widening. Having lived four years with their mother slowly becoming someone unfamiliar because of HD, Adina and Tovah’s relationship is spread thin. Their interests are quite different and the lives they’re preparing for will separate them even further.
Jealousy and selfishness caused the big rift we see at the begining of the novel and, when the results of the test for Huntington’s comes back, it grows. Coping with the results is an ordeal, but how will they face it when knowing for sure doesn’t bring them closer together, but only highlights the differences between them? The life that one will be able to lead and the other that leads to the same fate as their mother?
Reading the time before the results was tense and inspired a feeling of sickness in my stomach as I waited along with them to find out which twin would be the one to get the diagbox is. Afterwards was something else as they considered, again, what their futures would be like with this new information. It’s a time fraught with emotions that run the gamut from despair to disappointment. Light moments were hard to come by and I think it was after the test when we really got to see into the hearts of these sisters.
Beneath the oppressive weight of one twin testing positive there was beauty and order. Adina’s music, the viola pieces that lift her heart and one day might give her a conservatory seat. Tovah’s medical aspirations, fixing those that can be fixed. There’s a soothing quality to Adina’s music and Tovah’s studies and the Jewish faith that links them and yet is different for each.
Throughout the book there is talk of faith and the minutiae of a Conservative Jewish family. There were terms I was already familoar with and then ones I didn’t. I found it comforting and interesting to learn more about what it was like for these two, different as their experiences were.
There were scenes in which difficulties in today’s society were mentioned in a clear way, getting through to the reader in an understandable way. The two that stand out are: 1. When Tovah and Adina are at a skating rink in Winter and it’s full of Christmas decorations, Tovah makes an observation that she doesn’t understand why people don’t say Happy Holidays. Christmas is not the only holiday during December and it’s silly that people can’t adapt a greeting. It isn’t just about. The greeting though, as later in that chapter she reminisces about learning what it meant, being Jewish & half Israeli. The history, the past, the pain and suffering and culture and history that led to her being who she is. 2. When Adina is picking a fight about Tovah and the range of choices she has in front of her, Tovah thinks about how, just because Adina will be sick one say, doesn’t mean that she (Tovah) isn’t allowed to experience hurt as well. Small scenes in the bigger picture of the book, but important ones.
While I favored Tovah and intensely disliked Adina, I felt like I understood Adina a little better. Her thoughts and the idea of dying with dignity before Huntington’s can rob her of everything made sense. I hated the way she acted toward Tovah, toward the world in general after her diagnosis. I don’t feel like she was a good person even years before that, but I still think I got her view point. I can feel sympathetic about her potential illness, supportive of her decision in the face of all the pain and loss, and yet still dislike her as a person.
The writing was incredibly well done; even when I was shaking my head at some of the characters I still craved the story, still had to know what happened next. This was an incredible novel and I hope to read much more from Rachel.
Rachel Lynn Solomon is a Pacific Northwest native who loves rainy days, tap dancing, red lipstick, and new wave music. Her debut contemporary YA novel, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, will be out from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse in spring 2018, with a second book, A Year of Bad Ideas, to follow in 2019.
Rachel has written for newspapers, produced a radio show that aired in the middle of the night, and worked for NPR, and she currently works in education. Rachel lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and tiny dog. She’s represented by Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency.
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- Prize: 1 signed Hardcopy of YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE by Rachel Lynn Solomon (US Only)
- Starts: January 2nd
- Ends: January 17th
I received a copy of this book as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Tour in exchange for an honest review.