Book Name: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, YA
Number of Pages: 384
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publishing Date: January 2, 2018
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
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Adina and Tovah Seigel are fraternal twins about to turn eighteen years old. Eighteen is supposed to be a lucky number in Hebrew, but to the twins the number eighteen is anything but lucky. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Turning eighteen means they can now take the genetic test to find out if either one of them inherited their mother’s gene for Huntington’s Disease. When one sister’s test comes back positive and the other sister negative, it impacts their lives in different ways.
Adina and Tovah do not have the best of relationships. At one time they were very close, but they had a falling out. Now, with the test results they both try to put the past behind them and start anew. They both have a lot of issues they need to work through and their relationship is shaky at best. Like all sibling relationships, there will always be arguments and times where you will not get along. You can see that with Adina and Tovah. I can see that with my own sisters. We fight and make up and fight and make up again. Adina and Tovah’s relationship is realistically portrayed. Are they both likeable? Yes and no. They were both flawed and complex characters. They both have moments where you either love or hate what they are doing.
Outside influences also made me see the sisters in a different light. Adina is in love with her viola tutor who is a few years older than her whereas, Tovah likes a boy from her school. The boy/girl relationship dynamic between the two sisters was so different. Adina is the siren and she uses her looks to get what she wants. Although realistic, it really made me feel sorry for Adina that she had to use her looks and sexuality to get the guy that she wants. Tovah, on the other hand, is inexperienced and never had a boyfriend. She is uncomfortable in her own skin and dresses the part to hide her body. In this instance, I felt I could relate more with Tovah as she seemed the more down to earth sister. Both relationships were so different and one of them even toxic.
Since the genetic test results have come in both sisters have to come to terms for what this means and how it is going to impact both of their lives. The both see what their mother is going through and as a whole how it is impacting their family. Huntington’s Disease is a genetic disease that affects the brain’s neurons. Symptoms usually occur in your forties and fifties, but can occur even earlier. Imagine living with this fear of not knowing when your own body and mind will betray you….of not being able to function…of dropping things, having mood swings, stumbling and eventually not even being able to take care of yourself. I can only imagine what that would feel like to know in ten or twenty years or maybe even sooner my life is going to change and not for the better. You can see the turmoil both Adina and Tovah experience because of these results. How guilty one must feel to know their sibling was not spared. How their life is going to continue while their sibling worries about every time they drop a plate or stumble and if it a sign of early symptoms progressing.
There is one aspect that I really loved that the author, Rachel Lynn Solomon, took a huge risk on and that is thoughts of suicide. Honestly, it was beautifully done and so real. I am so glad the thought of suicide was not left out because it is an emotion some people think about especially when they are sick or know they are going to die. It is a really hot topic and not everyone will agree with the right to die. Personally, I would never want to be a burden to my family and if I had a disease like Huntington’s at some point I would hope my state had the option for assisted suicide. I think you should be able to live your life the way you want to and be able to die on your own terms. Again, this is just my opinion. I accept that not everyone will agree with me. I also know this topic can be a trigger for some. So, this is the only warning I have for this story. Just know, it is realistically portrayed.
Religion is also at the forefront of the story. They are both immersed into their culture, being of Israeli background. Faith is an underlying current throughout their story. I felt that I learned quite a bit about being Jewish without it being shoved down my throat. You also see how both Adina and Tovah practice or not practice their faith in Judaism. Both sisters have different views on religion and how they want to live their life devoted or not so devoted to God. How they both relate to their Jewish Identity was just fascinating.
I am so surprised that I’LL MISS YOU WHEN I AM GONE is a debut novel. It just feels like Rachel Lynn Solomon has all these great books behind her and she knows how awesome she is as a writer. I mean she is a fantastic writer regardless, but for a debut novel to be this great, to pull you right into the story and make you fall in love with all of the characters and to take on such a heavy and emotional heart wrenching topic is nothing more than phenomenal. What an outstanding debut! I can not praise this story enough. I am really looking forward for more books/stories from this author.