Food and Book Pairing: You’ll Miss When When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Book

  • Title: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone
  • Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Release Date: 1/2/18
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Content Warnings: Illness of a parent and of the narrator, self-harm, discussion of suicide
  • Rating: ★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: 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? From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

I’ve been on a kick to read all of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s work after I read The Ex Talk a month ago. After reading her upcoming book, We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This, I decided to go back to her debut novel, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone.

The title is reflective of the foreboding mood of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. Huntington’s Disease feels like a dark cloud looming over Adina and Tovah and their parents. There is a persistent sense of unease throughout the novel that made it very compelling. I never felt comfortable that I knew what was going to happen next.

I loved that You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone switches perspectives between Adina and Tovah. There is such a gulf between the two sisters that is especially interesting to see the way each of them processes the same events. Neither sister is perfect, and they both behave badly towards the other. With these two perspectives, the reader gets the sense of the pain and hurt behind each action. While this doesn’t excuse their behavior, it makes it harder for the reader to choose to be solely on one twin’s side.

Adina and Tovah’s relationship is the most compelling element of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. Their personalities are polar opposites, but it is clear they still care deeply about each other even though they have a hard time showing it. Adina even tries to destory Tovah’s application to Johns Hopkins’ summer program because she doesn’t want Tovah to be far away from her.

I am consistenly impressed with the thoughtfulness of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s portrayal of Jewish characters. Adina and Tovah were raised more religious than many of her other characters, but they both struggle with what their religious means to them. Adina decides to stop keeping kosher and stops going to synagogue because she can’t believe in a higher being who would allow Huntington’s Disease to exist.

Very few of the books I’ve read have Israeli characters, and I appreciate that You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone addresses the complexity of being from Israel and having Israeli heritage. Adina and Tovah’s mom rarely discusses growing up in Israel, but she speaks Hebrew regularly with her family. When Hebrew is spoken in the book, it is always clear what characters are saying. (It also provided a good opportunity for me to dust of my Hebrew skills).

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is dark and poignant, and left me an emotional wreck (in the best way). I highly recommend reading this book. I’m looking forward to reading Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Our Year of Maybe next.

Food Pairing: Challah

Challah is a braided egg bread that Jews traditionally eat as part of the Shabbat meal on Friday nights. It has always been one of my all time favorite foods. We used to share one as a class every Friday afternoon at my elementary school, and I used to always pull out a middle piece.

Shabbat and Judaism are also very important to Adina and Tovah’s family, so it made sense to pair this book with something central to Jewish ritual like challah.

Smitten Kitchen’s challah recipe is one of my favorites. It’s perfectly brown on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. I like to add a little Everything seasoning on top of the egg wash to add a little extra texture and flavor as well.

It’s Friday! No better day to make or eat challah (but is there ever a bad time to eat challah)?

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