Powerful and Heartbreaking
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone was one of the last books I read in 2017 and I couldn't have chosen a better book to wrap up my year with. It's a powerful yet heartbreaking tale between twin sisters at odds with each other, while they face the life-shattering test of Huntington's disease that has already taken over their mother's life.
This book... I don't even know where to begin! It hits all the right chords and I loved every second, as tough as it may have been to read. I also learned so much from it, that's for sure. I had no idea about Huntington's disease, how it slowly begins to erase a person's ability to take care of themselves, and then have to rely on others until they cease to exist. It's such a terrible condition and it makes me wish there could be a way to fight it off completely. To this date, there's no cure.
Our main characters, Adina and Tovah, have grown up knowing they have the big possibility of inheriting the disease, as they have watched their mother succumb to it. They've been terribly affected, but each one has had their own method of dealing. One diving further into her medical studies and Judaism, while the other passionately improving her Viola-playing skills. However, neither can't stand to be near each other, their differences proving more difficult to surpass and for them to really accept what is happening to their family, and what may happen to one of them if not both.
And as a nightmare, one of the sisters tests positive. Imagine the guilt and relief of not testing positive? Imagine the anger and unfairness of now having this degenerative disease? Of being fated to lose herself like how she has watched her mother fall right before her eyes, unlike her sister? Incredibly tough to deal.
As someone who has a sister who almost feels like a twin, I felt so much for Adina and Tovah, and for the hard road ahead. Despite the differences, it's very apparent how scared and vulnerable they feel, of not knowing what to do or how to act, and how much they need each other to keep moving on.
This book really tugged my heartstrings and I must warn it does have some triggering scenes in regard to suicide, as you might expect, but ultimately it is an inspiring and important read with hard themes that I believe the author handles really well.
With that said, I also enjoyed how You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone gives a wider view of Judaism from practicing and non-practicing perspectives. I loved learning more about the culture from Tovah's point of view, while also respecting Adina's choice of not practicing as the religion expects. Both points are interesting takes, which in the end prove that it's okay whichever way we decide to manage our faith.
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone is so much more than a heartbreaking story, though. It's a book about dealing with the unfair curves that life throws at you, while leaning on those closest to you to push through. Yes, there's a bit of romance and first love, but ultimately, it's more about family bonds, and to me, that's what makes it stand out.