I’m not the one to read memoirs, especially not ones with heavy topics like cancer, but Rob Rufus’ Die Young With Me turned out to be the perfect exception to my rule. Mixed with teen angst and underground punk culture, this book enticed me until the end.
Rob and Nat Rufus live in a typical little town in West Virginia where punk is nothing but noise. It’s not until the twins visit a relative that they find out how punk truly can be a way of life. After that, the brothers and a few friends start a band and never look back. When Rob, young, angry, and full of potential, is diagnosed with cancer, the dreams the Rob had fought so hard to achieve turn into a life or death battle.
I grew up with a lot of the artists the twins in this novel idolize: The Ramones, Bouncing Souls, Minor Threat, Screeching Weasel, and TSOL, just to name a few. In high school, I even attempted to be in a band much like Rob and Nat. I felt the same pull to music for much of my life. Unlike the twins, I never felt like a social outcast.
Rob does a fantastic job of showing how important music is to many. He shows how the music can get you though the bad times and bring you to the good. This memoir also does a great job at mixing information regarding the late 80s and 90s punk scene into the plot of the novel without making it to much of a punkumentary.
More than anything, I believe Die Young With Me shows how cancer can effect anyone and how people differently people can deal, even twins. While some believe music can help save some people’s souls, you have to find an inner strength to go along with it. If you enjoy music mixed with real life, then I believe this book will be for you.
Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.