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Die Young with Me
     

Die Young with Me

by Rob Rufus
 

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In the tradition of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, this incredibly moving and harrowing true story of a teenager diagnosed with cancer is “a resounding affirmation of how music can lift one’s spirits beyond gray skies and bad news (Kirkus Reviews).”

Punk’s not dead in rural

Overview

In the tradition of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, this incredibly moving and harrowing true story of a teenager diagnosed with cancer is “a resounding affirmation of how music can lift one’s spirits beyond gray skies and bad news (Kirkus Reviews).”

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 picture of the weirdness of growing up” (Marky Ramone) and the story of a brave teen’s battle with cancer and the many ways music helped him cope through his recovery.

Editorial Reviews

Vice
"Evocative . . . Rufus's writing describes the medical rabbit hole we all dread falling into in a style so candid you can imagine yourself tumbling in along with him."
Marky Ramone
“Rob Rufus is a punk after my own heart and his book is a raw, honest picture of the weirdness of growing up.”
Inked Magazine
"This is the true story of the healing power of music."
Midlife Mixtape
"After reading this book, and understanding what it took for him to take his seat behind the drumkit again, I’d be a fan even if I’d never heard a song."
Children's Literature - Toni Jourdan
Teenagers Rob Rufus and his twin brother, Nat are growing up in a small West Virginia town where they struggle through the day to day until a small record store comes to town and they find punk music and a way out of the Appalachian pit that they had fallen into. They turn their basement into a practice room, gather a couple of friends and start the band DOA, Defiance of Authority. Meanwhile, Rob has been interested in Ali, a cheerleader, but he was always pretty invisible until he bleached his hair, spiked it and caught her attention. They start dating and it seems like life has taken a turn for the better. The light at the end of their high school tunnel has emerged. Then Rob gets a cough that does not go away; and even though he’s taken to numerous doctors, none take it seriously—they take one look at Rob and assume that he’s not taking care of himself. The cough worsens and finally a doctor runs x-rays, only to find out that Rob has Stage 4 cancer. Punk music sets the soundtrack for Rob’s battle with cancer. His will to survive and to tour with his bandmates will draw teens into this memoir. It is a homage to the punk music scene as well as to Rob’s well-detailed struggle. The reader is on this journey with Rob. The telling is not all flowery, but edgy and spiky, just like Punk music. Its truth is as hard as his battle and puts a raw spin on the traditional “sick teenager” story. Reviewer: Toni Jourdan; Ages 14 up.
VOYA, October 2016 (Vol. 39, No. 4) - Lucy Schall
This powerful memoir recounts Rufus’s battle with a rare form of cancer that advances to stage four because of personal denial and professional incompetence. Growing up in West Virginia, Rufus and his twin, Nat, build what they consider a “kick-ass” record collection, until they visit their cousin, who introduces them to punk rock. They rally their out-group friends, form a band with one musician and pawn-shop instruments, ignore school, and set their sights on a concert tour and girls. Rufus attracts Ali, the school’s most beautiful cheerleader. Just as romance and success seem certain, Rufus develops a cough. He tries to ignore it, and doctors seem more focused on Rufus’s punk persona than any disease. Three months later, he is coughing up blood and close to death. Horrific cancer treatments threaten to shatter his body, his family, and his friendships, but Rufus fights to regain his strength, achieve his dreams, and join his brother on tour. Controversial situations and raw language make this selection a censorship target. Rufus’s dream girl is deep in the town’s teen culture of drugs and casual sex. The fierce loyalty of his family and childhood friends, as well as a dedicated medical team’s compassion and determination, are no match for the cancer that tortures and mangles his body. Rufus’s memoir is not a happily-ever-after. It is an angry testimonial to grit that older teens and adults, especially cancer survivors and their caregivers, will want to read. Reviewer: Lucy Schall; Ages 15 to Adult.
Kirkus Reviews
2016-07-19
Buy a drum kit. Buy a guitar. Get cancer. It’s not the usual rock ’n’ roll trajectory.Natives of the Appalachian coal country, Rufus and his identical twin brother, Nat, came to punk rock honestly—by skateboarding, that is—and with all the rebelliousness that a kid in a small town with a skateboard and different hair is likely to develop. Couple that with big-city kin who know their way to the record shop, and you have the necessary ingredients for a band that will become known as Defiance of Authority (D.O.A., of course). Add to all that righteous tattoos and cool leather jackets, and the future seemed set, save that illness intervened just at the time that the boys were ready to break out of Huntington and conquer the world. “I felt blank,” writes Rufus on receiving his first diagnosis. “I thought of all those machines outside, the white noise of their engines—blank and empty—calling to me. I sat there expressionless. I slipped into the hum.” The blend of rhythms in those sentences is typical of his musicianly prose as he recounts the course from illness to recovery, with dreams dashed and dashed again and then rebuilt. The narrative runs a touch long, but it seldom drags, and Rufus writes affectingly of the awfulness of chemotherapy, hospital food, and diminished energy without ever feeling too sorry for himself. At its best, the book is a resounding affirmation of how music can lift one’s spirits beyond gray skies and bad news; as the author writes, “hopelessness is a birthright in West Virginia, as easy to slip into as a warm bath.” By refusing to abandon hope, easy though it would have been to do so, Rufus’ memoir makes a valuable contribution to the literature of healing and recovery. It’s a good piece of rock writing, too, with “one hell of a soundtrack.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781501142611
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
09/20/2016
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
141,125
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Rob Rufus is a musician and writer living in Nashville. His band, Blacklist Royals, has released two full-length albums and played in sixteen countries over the past five years. His new project, The Bad Signs, released their first single in 2015. He is the author of Die Young with Me.

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