Author: Brian Farrey
Reading Level: Older Young Adult
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ARC, 352 pages
Date Published: May 24, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Eighteen year-old Evan and his best friend, Davis, get beaten up for being loners. For being gay. For just being themselves. But as rough as things often seem, at least Evan can take comfort in his sweet, sexy boyfriend Erik--whom he’s kept secret from everyone for almost a year.
Then Evan and Davis are recruited to join the Chasers, a fringe crowd that promises them protection and status. Davis is swept up in the excitement, but Evan is caught between his loyalty to Davis and his love for Erik. Evan’s lied to keep his two worlds separate. Now his lies are about to implode…and destroy the very relationships he’s been trying to protect.
He’s gay, but it’s only one aspect of who he is. Because throughout these few months in his life, Evan tries to contend with the two parts of his life – the part that is madly in love with a great guy named Erik, and the part that still hasn’t told anyone about Erik. He’s young, he’s scared of the love he doesn’t think can last, but he’s still this beyond-words caring person. Evan is one of the most realistic characters I’ve ever read. His emotions are raw and honest, and he felt as real to me as my own brother is.
Evan’s best friend Davis is everything Evan is not. He’s angry and bitter and willing to go to any length to fit in. He wants acceptance, while Evan just wants to get out. When Davis gets mixed up with Chasers, a group of gay young men who look at contracting HIV as a gift, Evan refuses to let him go. This aspect of the story, while integral and important, is not the driving force of the plot; Evan is. His painting – window panes are his canvas – is as important to the story as any other aspect. Evan’s relationships, with his parents, his sister, Davis (who is only his best friend), and with Erik evolve throughout the pages. He grows into a much stronger character by the end.
And every single character grows along with him. For better or worse, they develop, they grow, and by the end, they are different people; some only slightly, but others irrevocably altered.
With or Without You is a coming of age story, that just happens to have gay characters. Not once will it try to beat meaning into your head. It is what it is and each reader will come away with a different feeling by its close. But one thing is for sure, With or Without You is about finding out who you are, outside of the person people are telling you to be, and outside of the person you think you’re expected to be. It’s emotional and brutally honest, but the reality it represents is what will captivate readers, just as it did for me.
Opening lines: Chapter title – Rules
Hit the ground.
Curl into a ball.
Cover your head.
Don’t cry. Ever. ~ pg. 1
Favorite lines/passages (I wanted to include all of them, but settled for this one):
“Why don’t you paint people?”
Explaining this has always been difficult.
“When you paint somebody,” I said slowly, “you suspend them in a single moment. I guess I’m waiting for the right moment. That defining instant that changes everything. So the image in the picture is the last time you’ll ever see that version of that person again.” ~ pg. 202
*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.
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