I just want to start off with my admiration for an author who tells it like it is. Rob is the victim but he also makes major mistakes. He is no saint. He takes his frustration out on people who support him. He is a real person and his character was so appreciated. This isn’t the typical flowery shit you expect from a memoir, this is a honest portrayal of teenage cancer.
This was such a moving story. DIE YOUNG WITH ME is a book that took me inside the mind of a punk rock kid and dealt me a force of emotional blows. Rob and his brother Nat are twins. They dream of taking their small punk band on the WARP tour. Rob starts off as a normal 17 year old kid with dreams of punk rock stardom. His is playing local gigs with his band, he is dating a cheerleader, and looking forward to the rest of his life.
After much determination and promotion, they get the offer to join the tour. That same week, Rob is diagnosed with a rare genetic form of stage 4 cancer that effects his ability to breath. His brother Nat goes on to live that life, while Rob’s life gets put on hold while he fights for his survival. Rob’s cancer treatments become Rob’s focus, while Nat takes the band on the road. This is Rob’s story of teen cancer and punk rock dreams.
Rob’s story was written entirely in his perspective and he shows us the ugly face of cancer and how it can take a dream and twist it. Honestly, I have always wondered what cancer is like, not out of some macabre fascination, but because I see people going through it and it would help for me (as a nurse) to know. Rob details what it was like for him, as a teenager. His story includes all the gross details one would expect from chemo therapy and surgery and then real sickness to come with. It is eye opening and heartbreaking.
Music plans a huge role in Rob’s story. The book starts off with exactly when he and his brother began to love punk. Rob tells the reader exactly how their basement band started and the local venues they played. The readers learns all about Rob and Nat’s favorite bands. I especially loved that I could easily see their dream. It’s a good dream and worth all the work they put into being successful.
Rob’s description of the people around him is completely candid. There is much to empathize with here, but also so much to root for. Rob and his girlfriend Ali have issues. They have a unique relationship that has everything to do with Rob’s treatments. Nat and Rob have typical male communication where much goes unsaid. Being twins means they share a really close relationship, but cancer threatens to tear them apart.
For anyone who has ever wondered about childhood cancer, or what chemo really looks like. This is the book that defines what cancer means to the patient and those around them who are very much affected by it. If you read only one non-fiction book this year, let it be this one. Rob’s story is one that had to be told.
Die Young with Me by Rob Rufus
Published by Touchstone on September 20th 2016
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Health & Fitness, Diseases, Cancer, Music, Genres & Styles, Punk
ARC provided by BEA 2016, Simon & Schuster
In the tradition of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes the incredibly moving true story of a teenager diagnosed with cancer and how music was the one thing that helped him get through his darkest days.
Punk’s not dead in rural West Virginia. In fact, it blares constantly from the basement of Rob and Nat Rufus—identical twin brothers with spiked hair, black leather jackets, and the most kick-ass record collection in Appalachia. To them, school (and pretty much everything else) sucks. But what can you expect when you’re the only punks in town?
When the brothers start their own band, their lives begin to change: they meet friends, they attract girls, and they finally get invited to join a national tour and get out of their rat box little town.
But their plans are cut short when Rob is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that has already progressed to Stage Four. Not only are his dreams of punk rock stardom completely shredded, there is a very real threat that this is one battle that can’t be won.
While Rob suffers through nightmarish treatments and debilitating surgery, Nat continues on their band’s road to success alone. But as Rob’s life diverges from his brother’s, he learns to find strength within himself and through his music. Die Young With Me is a raw, honest account of a brave teen’s fight with cancer and the many ways music helped him cope through his recovery.