I’ve wanted to feature Rachel Lynn Solomon ever since I saw the cover for YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE in my Facebook feed. I love books that explore duality, and the dichotomy of these twins is significant as well as symbolic.
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?
According to your website bio, you used to work for NPR. What did you enjoy most about working there, and in what ways, if any, did it lead to (or supplement) your writing career?
My degree is in journalism, and for a while, I was certain my career was in public radio. I worked for two NPR stations in Seattle as a producer and (very) occasional reporter, and my favorite part was being involved in something that was so much bigger, being part of an organization that’s such a force for good in the world. Ultimately, though, journalism was not for me long-term, and the major reason was that I really struggled to manage my emotions while working on heavy stories. Public radio is extremely competitive, though — there are so few jobs that actually exist in the country, and only a couple places you can work in each state if this is something you really want to do. While it wasn’t my path, I did pursue it with vigor for several years post-college, and I imagine that ambition carried over to writing. I tend to be very, very stubborn about my goals!
That’s definitely a good thing! YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE explores the possibilities that arise with duality. What do you think it is about the book that most connects with readers?
That’s such an interesting question. One thing I’ve noticed is that while some readers do connect more with one twin, many find themselves rooting for both, or even seeing themselves in both. Adina and Tovah are different, but they’re far from opposites. In terms of plot, a lot of us with anxiety (including me) tend to catastrophize. The idea of these opposite fates — one twin testing negative and one twin testing positive for Huntington’s — is heartbreaking, terrifying, and fascinating. There’s so much tension in the premise alone.
Definitely. In your interview with Kit Frick, you talked about the “done-ness” of a book. In your experience, in what ways can a book be “done” as opposed to finished?
Honestly, no book of mine has ever been “done” at this point except for YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE. I can’t open up the document and tweak a sentence or fix a typo. I feel like all my projects are living documents; even after I send something to critique partners or my agent, I’m sometimes still fiddling. “Finished” for me often means it’s not keeping me up at night. It means I’m not sending my friend five emails in a row with subject lines like “read this version” and “no wait, actually read this version” and “FINAL VERSION. FOR REAL.” Being “done” was hard because I had to finally let go of the characters. They don’t occupy space in my mind anymore; that’s reserved for my works-in-progress. But I was ready to be done, ready for it to be out in the world.
I‘m so glad it is. What are some of your current projects?
I’ve just wrapped up final(ish) edits on OUR YEAR OF MAYBE, which is coming out from Simon Pulse in early 2019! So it’s “finished” but not “done” :). It’s dual POV, like my debut, and is about the aftermath of a kidney transplant between best friends, complicated by the fact that the donor is in love with the recipient. I’m also working on a YA romantic comedy and a short story for a Jewish YA anthology coming out next fall.
Rachel Lynn Solomon lives, writes, and tap dances in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of two young adult novels, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (out now from Simon Pulse) and Our Year of Maybe (out in 2019). You can find her online at rachelsolomonbooks.com and on Twitter @rlynn_solomon.