Author: Rachel Solomon
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: I received an e-galley of You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! Thank you! All thoughts and opinions are my own. :)
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 is Rachel Solomon's debut novel, and color me impressed. I kept seeing this on Netgalley for weeks, and eventually I decided to give it a go. To be honest, hard-hitting contemporaries aren't usually my thing. I like light and fluffy, and generally keep the dark stuff for fantasy. However, I kept seeing amazing reviews for this book, and downloaded it, and I'm happy I did!
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone follows faternal twins Adina and Tovah. On their 18th birthday, they take a test for Huntington's Disease. One twin tests postitive, and another one tests negative. The plot takes off from their as both twins deal with their results and how their lives change because of that. There are trigger warnings for this book, which I will leave at the bottom of the review!
The plot of this book isn't as structured as some other YA books out there. You might be used to the general YA contemporary romance formula that goes like this:
1) introduction of protagonist
2) meet cute
3) angst/cute-sy will they won't they
4) miscommunication blow up!
But this book doens't follow that at all, simply because the romances in the book are not the center of focus. Instead, the focus is on these two sisters, how they come to terms with their results, and the impact it has on their lives, including their mental health. Yes, there is romance. But the book is about so much more than that, and I liked not knowing what was going to happen next in the story.
When comparing the two points of view (the book is told in alternating chapters in Tovah and Adina's POVs), I liked Tovah's story a lot more. I just liked her voice, and liked her as a person more. Adina is extremely flawed (don't get me wrong, Tovah is as well), but I had a harder time empathizing with her. At times, Adina is one of the antagonists of the novel. At the end of the day, I rooted for Adina and her well-being, but I didn't necessarily like her. In contrast, I loved Tovah. I saw a lot of myself in her: how she regrets not taking chances, yearns for human connection, and at times caves under the pressure of excellence.
Another thing I loved were the feminist themes! The characters never shout: "I am feminist!!" but they show it in their actions. Tovah and Adina stand up for themselves and make sure they are considered equals. No, they are not perfect and make mistakes, but every person does. I loved their conviction and determination.
What made You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone a bit hard for me to read was my personal connection. My mother does not have Huntington's Disease, but she does have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. She'll never have the hallucinations like Huntington's or not have control of her body, but her disability does cause a lot of pain and hinders her mobility. She's had to stop working, and both are genetic. I read for escapism; I love being transported into other people's stories, and this just hit a bit too close to home for me at times. While I was able to really connect with Tovah, sometimes I just didn't want to read the book because it brought up a lot of stuff, if you know what I mean.
Although the book was hard at times for me to read, the pacing pushed me forward. There are no filler chapters, everything happens for a reason. Whenever I opened up the book, it was so hard for me to put it down and do homework or other responsibilities, because things just kept happening! Yes, the book deals with heavy topics, but the fast pace allowed me to have fun as well.
If you couldn't already tell from my review, I really liked this book. I think it's important to read, and I loved how the characters were flawed. No one in this book is perfect, and I appreciated that so much. However, I am giving this book 4 stars, not the 5 like my review might seem. This is solely because of my personal background, and not something that the author herself has done.
With that, I give this book
4 out of 5 Stars!
Self-harm, suicidal ideation