Before I start reviewing this book, I want to tell you that You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon is probably my favourite book of the year. It’s one of the most powerful reads of mine, it was raw, it made me feel things. It was absolutely perfect and when it comes out in January, please make sure you read it because you have no idea what you’re losing on.
I want to thank the publishers who provided me an e-copy of this book via Netgalley, this hadn’t affected my review/rating in any way.
I thought I could force him to love me. Relationships are not about control, though, and perhaps that is why I have never had a real one. I want to always feel strong when I am with guys. That isn’t going to change. I am always going to wear my dresses and red lipstick because I like them. I am always going to have people watch me when I am onstage, but my looks are not the only things that make me Adina.
Trigger Warnings : self harm, suicidial ideation
I’m not sure how to make a structure for this book review as I usually tell you first about the things I’ve enjoyed and then about the ones I didn’t. But this book is different because I’ve enjoyed absolutely everything. Like literary, there’s nothing I didn’t enjoy. So, buckle up because we’re going on a fangirling trip, my dear.
Things that I absolutely loved about You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone :
- How the books makes it pretty clear that women can be everything and don’t have to be limited to only on trait (like smart, beautiful or talented).
The characters are absolutely unique, Rachel Lynn Solomon did a great job at creating complex and three-dimensional characters. They felt so real, that for the first time, I had absolutely no problem imagining them, imagining what they would like, what they might do in a situation. I absolutely love how Adina and Tovah, the main characters, are very different. Adina is a music prodigy, she is very cofident, she loves make-up and dresses, she’s experienced in relationships. And then, Tovah is the smart girl, the one that never gets comments on how she looks, but is always complimented on her brain, she’s not that experienced in relationships. You get the idea.
What I absolutely loved about Solomon’s book is how she fought these cliches. She showed us this sister rivalry that was pretty much rooted in people’s expectations and how society sees girls. I’ve always been annoyed with how girls can only be smart or can only be beautiful and there’s never both of them. And if you’re beautiful, then you’re expected to have a boyfriend, if you don’t, then there’s something wrong with you. If you’re smart, you’re expected to focus on your studies and forget about the boys. So, society wants us to be one dimensional, pretty much. And Rachel Lynn Solomon slammed it all.
2. Sisters and a very complex take on their relationship
Tovah and Adina don’t have a good relationship at the beginning of this book, they are arguing all the time, they don’t spend time together and so on. The thing is they have very valid reasons and it’s not that simple. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is, in my opinion, a love letter to sisters, in the end, you realize how beautiful and touching it is to have a sister, how that bond is beyond everything else. To me, as an only child, it really touched me and made me envious of everybody who has a sister.
3. Family over relationships, always
Solomon did a great job of focusing on family rather than on romantic relationships. I think you’ve seen pretty often on my blog commenting on how YA does pretty badly in incorporating family interactions in the stories a.k.a the missing parents. This one again destroyed everything you could expect from YA, it was mainly focused on family, relationships were there, but only to show us more facets of Adina and Tovah. It was amazing how every relationship from their family was explored by the end of the book, you get Adina and Tovah together, Adina and her mom, Tovah and her dad, Adina and her dad, Tovah and her mom. And they are all very unique. They feel so real because they are normal relationships. For example, Adina is very much connected with her mom, but she has a colder relationship with her dad, not because of issues, but because they don’t connect as much. With Tovah, it’s the other way around. And I think it’s highly relatable because even in a family, we are all people and there are some persons with whom we can identify and get along with better than with others (even if they are our parents).
4. Incredible representation of Huntington’s
As a psychology major, I’m highly interested in mentally ill people being represented in a good way. I’m fed up with books that demonize them, make them seem violent and aggressive and like they don’t matter. I know better than that. We should all know better than that. Because we can do so much better for them by starting with trying to understand and be there, listen.
I got into this book not knowing much about Huntington’s besides the fact that it is genetical. The premise of the book is that Adina and Tovah are going to take a DNA test to see whether they’re going to have the disease like their mother or not. I think Solomon did such a great job at representing this illness as it is, not romanticized, not distorsioned in any way. It just felt very real to me and I understood many facets of it.
What I highly appreciated was the outcome of the DNA tests and how the sisters progressed from there. I don’t want to say much because I want you to find out for yourself. But at some point, I was very worried about one character’s potential decision. It’s a very difficult matter and I don’t think there’s a white or a black in here, it’s about decision and perspective. But the author managed to show that there are choices and I loved that, showing alternatives is amazing.
5. Religion being very important in this book
I think religion is becoming somewhat of a taboo for our society, I rarely ever see it talked about in books anymore and I dislike this trend because I feel like it’s not that people aren’t religious anymore, as much as they don’t feel the subject will be interesting to people. And it’s pretty wrong. It was so refreshing to see both perspectives in the book. The characters are Jewish, Tovah identifies with Judaism a lot, while Adina doesn’t because for her there’s impossible for God to exist and let her mother be as sick as she is. I think it was refreshing to see both of these perspectives in one book because it was impossible not to relate to any of them. And while I’m a religious person, Adina’s thoughts were relatable, at times, as she does, I’ve always questions what’s the reason for all the suffering. You know, it’s highly relatable. And it’s great, we should talk about these things instead of letting silence divide us.
6. Not very nice characters
This one is a favourite of mine. In my opinion, Adina was one of those characters that aren’t nice (at all), but you can’t help, but feel for them. I rooted for her all the time, even though I wasn’t okay with her actions. You just realize that she’s flawed and that’s totally okay. Women don’t have to always be agreeable, nice in order for us to like them. We all have different personalities and we should accept that in female characters as we do with male characters. Adina challenged everything, she liked to play games, she wanted to be liked and appreciated, she owned her body. I loved seeing such a confident character in a YA book.
7. Sex representation in YA
Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. A million times thanks.
We have to understand that teenagers have sex. (WOW!) And they should be informed and those healthy representations of sex in YA are absolutely necessary if we want them to be informed.
8. Amazing plotlines
What I enjoyed the most was how Adina came to realize that her relationships weren’t what she wanted. She realized that most of her past relationships had been about her body and not about who she was. And I loved how she came to this realization. Solomon presented us her relationship with Arjun and Tovah’s relationship with Zack and they were contrasting each other. Tovah and Zack made Adina aware of some of the issues she had when it came to relationships and life, in general. I really loved it.
9. Making your dreams come true
Both of these characters are very dedicated to what they want and I loved how hard-working they both were. I loved how their objectives were very high and they wanted everything, at once. And I adored how the book showed us that sometimes you might not get what you want because it’s not meant for you or because you’re not prepared for it. It showed us that it’s okay to take a break from something you’ve worked a lot on, to just wonder if it’s what you want. It’s okay to try to get to know yourself better, any time. It’s never too late to understand who you are and what you want.
All in all, this book challenged a lot of cliches, a lot of unhealthy tropes, it is a dreamy book and it is an important book and I hope you all find yourself in it.
Also, I’m so happy for Rachel Lynn Solomon who got to write the book she probably always wanted to read.
I wrote this book partially because the only Jewish stories I read growing up were Holocaust narratives. We cannot stop telling those stories, but they are not the only stories we as Jewish people have to tell.
(this line is from the acknowledgments and it stayed with me a lot.)
Have you read the book and if you did, did you enjoy it? How important do you think it is to have such books that slam the cliches of the YA genre?