Die Young with Meby Rob Rufus
Punk’s not dead in rural/i>/i>/i>
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.
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.”
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- 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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