Die Young with Me

A Memoir

Die Young with Me

  • 1
Winner of the American Library Association Alex Award, given to books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.

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.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501142611 | 
  • September 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Die Young with Me includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Rob Rufus. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Rob Rufus and his twin brother, Nat, have just started a band. Supportive parents help supply them with instruments and space in the basement to practice, the local West Virginia YMCA has provided them a venue to host their very first show, and girls Rob felt all but invisible to have started taking notice. But just as ambitions of punk-rock stardom seem within grasp for these two teenagers, Rob is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. While his brother reluctantly leaves to represent their band, playing the eastern leg of the coveted Warped Tour, Rob endures intensive surgery and nauseating rounds of chemotherapy. His condition not only weakens him to the point of being unable to pick up a drumstick, it threatens his very life. Yet it is his unwavering passion for the musicianship now denied him, along with the heroic support of family and friends, that ultimately gives him the strength to persevere.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Though Rufus admits that he and his brother Nat have “the exact same inte see more

About the Author

Rob Rufus
Emily Beaver

Rob Rufus

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.