You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone
Rachel Lynn Solomon
Published on January 2, 2018
About You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone
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?
I read this book over my hospital stay in December, and it was a really great distraction from everything else going on before my daughter was born. (Everything’s good—we’re both healthy and doing well now.) I found it super easy to get lost in the story of two sisters waiting for the results of a genetic test and dealing with their anxiety over the results in vastly different ways. Both girls felt real and individual. I could tell whose point-of-view I was in just from reading a single paragraph.
While Adina has some mixed feelings about some casual sexual encounters in her past, she clearly feels empowered by her desirability. She comes across confident and eager for sex, but frustrated that she’s not able to trigger a transfer from lust to love in her partners. I found that complexity moving and believable. For me personally, I wish it had less explicit sexual content, but I liked the writing and the way the author showed a lot more about Adina’s character through her perceptions of herself and the way she related to men.
The tug-of-war between Adina and Tovah to rebuild or sabotage their relationship felt like a train wreck I couldn’t look away from (in a good way). The tension only increases when one sister receives a positive test result for Huntington’s.
I don’t know much about Huntington’s apart from the descriptions in this book, so I’m not a good resource for how accurately it’s represented. But many scenes showed Adina and Tovah’s mom and her changing moods and behavior in stark, raw ways that made it clear how much a positive result would impact each girl’s life plans and made it impossible not to empathize both with the girls and their family.
Readers who enjoyed Dana Reinhardt’s We Are the Goldens will find similar focus on sister relationships and strong writing.
Adina and Tovah have been raised in a practicing Jewish family. Tovah embraces her faith in part because of her mom’s diagnosis. Adina rejects her faith wholly, even to the extent that she doesn’t believe in God. For her, Mom’s diagnosis is evidence that there is no God.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently. One sister uses much more profanity than the other.
An eighteen-year-old girl begins a sexual relationship with her teacher. Some exchanges between them contain explicit details. She also reflects on other casual sex encounters from her past—some of which she has very mixed feelings about now. In one scene, she masturbates, thinking about her new lover.
One girl begins a dating relationship and describes some of the progression of the physical side of it—kissing, cuddling inside a sleeping bag together, and approaching having sex. She learns her best friend has been having sex with a boyfriend.
Adina and Tovah celebrate Sabbath with their family and attend weekly services. They speak Hebrew. One sister talks about how frustrated she feels around the winter holidays when people wish her a Merry Christmas because it assumes she’s part of something she isn’t.
One girl wrestles with anxiety and depression, at one point planning to commit suicide.
Some scenes show teens drinking alcohol.