I’ve Got My Ticket For The Long Way ‘Round

BOOK REPORT for You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Cover Story: I’m Leafin’ Tomorrow, Wha-do-ya Say?       
BFF Charm: Yay x2
Swoonworthy Scale: 7 and 2
Talky Talk: Dark Beauty
Bonus Factor: Diversity,Symphony
Relationship Status: LYLAS

Cover Story: I’m Leafin’ Tomorrow, Wha-do-ya Say?       

Okay, I promise that is my last reference to the Pitch Perfect song, but c’mon, the joke was sitting right there, ready to be made! This cover ranks as fine-but-not-great on my made up but slightly hard to please book cover ranking scale. The girls’ reflection in a gross stagnant puddle is a bit emo, but their shoe choices feel authentic to their personalities, I guess?

The Deal:

Twins Tovah and Adina have always been different. Tovah is the perfect student—AP classes, perfect GPA, student council rep—anything that will help her get into Johns Hopkins to study pre-med. Adina is a gifted violist who cares little about school or friends, and wants nothing more than to go to conservatory…and seduce her 25-year-old music teacher. When the girls were 14, their Ima (mother) was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a fatal genetic disorder that causes the breakdown of nerves in the brain. The diagnosis sent a shockwave through the family, splintering the twins’ relationship and leaving them as little more than chilly roommates.

On their 18th birthday, Tovah insists they get tested for Huntington’s disease, against Adina’s wishes. But when one of the girls receives a negative diagnosis and the other receives a positive one, a new onslaught of guilt and betrayal pushes them even further apart when they need each other the most.

BFF Charm: Yay x2

Tovah was at times a little naïve, but she loved her family and their Jewish traditions, and didn’t care if that sometimes meant she didn’t fit in. Her insecurities stemmed mostly from how she looked—she hid her curvy figure in baggy clothes and kept her hair chopped short—and that she was inexperienced in the boy department.

Adina was the opposite: she wore dresses that hugged her curves and never left home without her Siren red lipstick. She knew the power she had over boys, and even men, and liked the way she was able to wield it. She was a little darker, more challenging, and unlike Tovah, when their Ima was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, Adina’s faith faltered.

I don’t want to spoil which sister gets diagnosed, but I will say that both girls’ reactions to their respective diagnoses felt real, raw and full of depth and emotion. I loved that each girl had her own set of insecurities. Tovah is a great student, but she’s jealous of Adina’s natural talent, confidence, and beauty. Adina constantly fields comments about her sister being smart and driven, which makes her feel inadequate in her own ways. These girls aren’t perfect by a long shot, but their depth and complexity made them stand out from other protagonists.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7 and 2

Tovah’s best friend Lindsey is actually sort of a terrible best friend, constantly ditching Tovah for her boyfriend Troy. The silver lining to this, however, is that Troy’s best friend Zack is always being ditched too. As Tovah and Zack are forced to spend more time together, they realize there’s more to their friendship than being “bonus friends” and their romance blossoms in a way that’s sweet, innocent and, at times, full o’ swoon.

Meanwhile, Adina has long been in love with her 25-year-old viola teacher Arjun. She wields her feminine wiles to get what she wants, and the two begin a secret affair. Solomon presents this relationship as a foil to Tovah and Zack—it is NOT sweet or innocent. I like reading about a teenage girl who doesn’t shy away from her sexuality, and Adina’s 18, so technically, nothing illegal is happening here, but I couldn’t shake that feeling of wrongness, even if Adina felt like she was in control.

Talky Talk: Dark Beauty

With chapters that alternate between Tovah and Adina’s points of view, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is at times reflective of both Tovah’s naiveté and Adina’s cynicism. Solomon’s writing reminds me of Jandy Nelson’s—full of emotion and beauty but also with a tinge of darkness. Solomon does a beautiful job of representing both the struggles of a family dealing with the symptoms of a terrible disease, as well as the fear and uncertainty of a girl who knows her life will be cut short when her own symptoms start to show.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Tovah and Adina’s Jewish heritage is not an afterthought in this book. Their mother is an immigrant from Israel and their parents practice conservative Judaism. They speak partial Hebrew at home, eat kosher, and practice Shabbat. As someone with about as much culture as a piece of orange cheese between two slices of white bread, I relished these details and enjoyed reading about a teenager who loves the old-school traditions of the culture she hails from.

Bonus Factor: Symphony

I’m a classically trained pianist, and growing up, people don’t always “get” the amount of hours and work spent practicing, performing and obsessing over music. Adina’s passion for playing viola hit close to home, and I loved the way her brain automatically saw music in every aspect of her life.

Relationship Status: LYLAS

Book, you weren’t easy—but you were absolutely worth the effort. Reading you was like volunteering to get my butt kicked, but I’m always to take a beating for a sister.

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is available now.



A New Year, A New Role
This month, we welcome Laura Simeon, our new Young Adult Editor, to Kirkus Reviews. Below is Laura’s first column. Welcome, Laura!—Claiborne Smith, editor-in-chief   For the past 14 years I’ve been working at the coal face, putting books directly into the hands of young readers at a kindergarten through eighth-grade school near Seattle. I had the satisfaction of ...
A New Year’s Introduction
Welcoming Kirkus’ new Young Adult Editor, Laura Simeon
The new beginnings of any new year are always exciting, but this new year brings one new beginning that has me doing backflips (or would, if I were younger and spryer): the expansion of Kirkus’ editorial team to include Laura Simeon, our brand-new young-adult editor. Laura comes to Kirkus with an impressive resume. The Library Learning Commons Director at Open ...
Reading Resolutions and January New Releases
Did you make any Reading Resolutions this year? I DID. According to my borderline over-the-top 2017 Reading Spreadsheet—I can’t be alone in tracking my reading with a spreadsheet complete with color-coded conditional formatting and formulas to track various statistics, I hope?—I read 200 books and 213 single-issue comics, which amounted to just under 45,000 pages. My longest reading ...