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.
“Sonatas and concertos tell stories. They make you feel every possible emotion, sometimes all within a single piece…they are joy and tragedy and fear and hate and love. They are everything I never say out loud.”
There are a lot of truly lovely and meaningful quotes I could have used from this book to start my review of it, but the above best sums up this reading experience. Adina and Tovah’s story is full of joy and tragedy and fear and hate and love.
I have two sisters, and Adina and Tovah’s sisterly relationship just rang so true to me. It reflected a lot of my own experiences. The petty jealousy, the competitiveness, the sometimes blinding dislike, it was all there, and then some.
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is told through dual first person PoV, and while I’ve read a lot of books that use this method of storytelling, this was hands down one of the best executed.
Adina is a musician, and her narrative reads much like a symphony. Her chapters are filled with highs and lows, poetical metaphor, and lyrical, beautiful storytelling. Her twin, Tovah, dreams of becoming a doctor, and her chapters are written in a clean, concise, sometimes surgical voice that reflects that. From the very beginning, you’re given a clear understanding of who each girl is, and how they differ. And yet they’re twins, so the similarities are also there, subtly woven into each PoV in such a way that you can’t help but hope that they resolve their conflict and realize they’re more alike than they think.
And there is a LOT of conflict within this book.
Imagine that your mother has a fatal disease. One that manifests much like rapidly progressive dementia, only with the addition of more apparent physical symptoms along with the memory loss. Now imagine finding out that you’ve inherited it. Every time your mother forgets a name, or stumbles, or has a facial tic, or slurs her speech, you’re forced to watch your own fate. A thousand times a week, you bear witness to the inescapable reality of your future. Now imagine having a twin who has escaped this fate.
Talk about a firestorm of emotions.
The fact that Adina and Tovah’s relationship was fraught with betrayal and animosity before one is diagnosed with Huntington’s only makes the resulting emotional turmoil that much more intense. The dual PoVs add an interesting dimension to this for the reader, because you find yourself sympathetic to both, angry at each in turn for what they do to the other, and yet also empathetic.
I loved it. I loved that I couldn’t figure out who I was meant to root for. Now that I’ve finished the book, I’m pretty sure it was both.
This is a more mature YA, complete with swearing and sex and mental health issues. There are some stronger themes in here than a lot of the contemporary YA that I’ve read, and I’m happy to say that they were very well portrayed, and handled with the depth they deserve. There’s also some great representation of diversity in this, and I love that I’m seeing more and more of it in YA.
The sisters – well, Tovah, at least – would identify as conservative Jewish. Their faith is an integral part of the story. Not only do they speak Hebrew at home, but there are a hundred smaller references to their beliefs and practices throughout this. It was superbly executed. As a non-Jewish reader, I never felt overwhelmed or confused about the details. I never felt as if I was being lectured or preached to, like I sometimes have with other books including a strong religious aspect. It was just who they were.
Was this an easy read? No. And you should know that going in. You are probably going to feel ALL the emotions. You are probably going to get really angry with these sisters. But know that it’s all worth it. Because the ending, while not a perfectly tied up little bow of peace and happiness and resolution (which would be BS if it was), at least leaves you feeling like these two have learned and grown, and will continue to do so off the page.
I can’t recommend this enough for YA readers. I enjoyed it so much that Rachel Lynn Solomon is going on my one-click list. She’s truly an author to watch.