Friday, March 23, 2018

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Solomon - OPTIONAL

Solomon, Rachel Lynn You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, 378 pages. Simon Pulse, 2018. $18.  Language: R (31 swears, 22 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (sex on-page); Violence: PG-13 (self-harm, talk of suicide).

When Tovah and Adina are fourteen years old, their mother is diagnosed with Huntington’s disease and they watch her slowly succumb to the illness over the next four years.  As twins, they agree to get tested for the marker which they have a 50% chance of having that will decide if they will also get the disease.  During their high school years, the girls deal with their mother’s illness and their own possible fate in different ways.  Tovah focuses on academics and practicing their Jewish religion faithfully.  She takes control of her life by working hard and not letting herself truly experience what life has to offer just in case she will have it taken away.  Adina, a viola prodigy, does the opposite, forsaking religion and throwing herself into music and passionate physical relationships, wanting to live life to the fullest in case she will end up having it tragically cut short.  They grow apart through these years and continue to keep their distance when they find out that one has the marker and one does not.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The Jewish faith was present throughout and I learned about many aspects of the religion.  I feel like the inclusion of sexual content and language felt natural, but I was also reminded of how many young girls like Adina and Tovah use their sexuality to try to find their place in this world and feel better about themselves.  The author does an excellent job representing two different adolescent girls’ experiences dealing with grief and upheaval.  The behavior between sisters is quite mean and disturbing but also feels realistic.  Parts of the story line were a bit harder to believe, like that Tovah with excellent grades, scores, and transcripts got completely rejected by Johns Hopkins without even being waitlisted.  I think this book would be a powerful read for some mature teenage girls and many women.

HS-OPTIONAL. Stacee S., Reading Teacher

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