With or Without You

With or Without You

4.7 8
by Brian Farrey

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When are you too far in to get out?

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

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When are you too far in to get out?

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 has 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While Farrey’s debut novel will likely draw attention for its chilling subject matter—“bugchasing,” or intentionally trying to contract AIDS—at its heart it’s a novel about gay teens who are removed from (and often ignorant of) their cultural history, and the ways in which they try to connect to it. After years of being bullied because of their sexuality, best friends Evan and Davis are graduating from high school and are ready to get on with their lives. And that means getting out the hell out of Dodge—or rather Madison, Wis.—to attend college in Chicago in the fall. The boys’ friendship is tested, however, when Davis gets drawn into a new gay community group with militant overtones and a three-stage recruitment process (“Revolution. Liberation. Identification”), and Evan tries to keep his gorgeous and brilliant college-age boyfriend a secret from both Davis and his own family. Farrey, a YA editor, in no way glamorizes the world of bugchasing, but he adeptly demonstrates how seductive the promise of belonging and power can be for those who haven’t known either. Ages 14–up. (May)
Children's Literature - Denise Hartzler
The events of this novel take place in the months following Evan's high school graduation. Evan and his best friend Davis plan to go to college in Chicago at the end of the summer. However, their plan is complicated when Davis is approached to join a mysterious club called the Chasers and Evan becomes more deeply involved with his secret boyfriend Erik. Readers will feel sad for Evan as he struggles with his loyalty to Davis and his love for Erik. When Evan's worlds are about to collide and the lies within each world implode, he stands to destroy every relationship he has been trying to protect. The entire story is set against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic. Farry weaves the story of Mr. Benton, a man suffering from the AIDS virus, throughout the novel and manages to humanize and show the effects of the disease without being preachy. In the book's afterword, contact information is given where readers can find more information about HIV and AIDS. However, it would have been wise for the publisher to add information regarding what to do if you are being bullied at school. There lots of children and teens going through what Evan and Davis experienced in the book, and they need to know that there are groups out there that they can contact if they are being harassed or bullied. Evan and Davis do not seek help from the police or an adult when they are beaten. This is very true to life and teens are scared to tell on their peers for fear of retribution or ridicule. Reviewer: Denise Hartzler
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Evan and Davis are best friends. Growing up gay in Wisconsin has made them outcasts and victims of violent bullying. Evan has found comfort with a loving boyfriend, but Davis is still looking for his niche when he discovers the Chasers, a support group for gay youth lead by the mysterious Sable. When Evan learns that Sable hopes to bring his newly created clan to a "bugchasing" party to intentionally contract HIV, he knows he must get Davis out. Descriptions of Evan's art provide a structure for the protagonist's memories and fill readers in on his backstory, allowing them to understand his growth. Farrey paces his story beautifully, covering many contemporary issues for teens about coming out, friendship, relationships, and following a dangerous crowd simply for a sense of belonging. Though the author handles these difficult concerns well, the gravity of all of these elements can be overwhelming. With a much more serious tone than John Green and David Levithan's Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Dutton, 2010), this well-developed novel is great for readers interested in an approachable story about teen homosexuality.—Devin Burritt, Jackson Memorial Library, Tenants Harbor, ME

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Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.86(w) x 7.02(h) x 0.95(d)
HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


Hit the ground.

Curl into a ball.

Cover your head.

Don’t cry. Ever.

All this I know. It is instinct, as automatic as any breath, any blink, any beat of the heart. I repeat eighteen years’ worth of these hard-learned lessons over and over in my head, waiting for the hail of blows to stop.

I worry it won’t be enough.

Over the war cries and laughs from above, I hear a whimper. It’s Davis. He’s nearby and while I can’t see him, I know he’s gone fetal, mirroring my position on the ground. I’m still, silent. I offer no sport. But Davis just made a mistake. His groan earns him the undivided attention of our attackers. I venture one impossibly short glance out between my elbows. Four different pairs of feet launch into a vicious, steel-toed assault on my best friend.

“You got something to say, faggot?”

Pete Isaacson, of course. I dare another look and see five of them total. The usual suspects. Pete’s mob from the wrestling team: the troglodytes. Pete lords over them all in his trademark bowling shoes, burnished emerald and ochre. Two glints of gun-metal silver, dog tags on a chain around his neck, shoot the sun’s reflection like a laser. He’s grinning. “Come on, faggot. Lemme hear you howl.”

When Davis doesn’t answer, Pete stomps on Davis’s hip, eliciting a scream. I’m too sore to take in a breath. I can only send silent pleas to Davis: Shut up, shut up, shut up. Davis sobs. The savage blows pitch his short, skinny body this way and that.

Don’t cry. Ever.

I’ve never cried during a beating. I used to think that I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing they’d hurt me. The real reason? Crying solves nothing. I only do things that make a difference. Like now. When I summon the strength to cough.

The effect is instantaneous. Three of the trogs break off and renew their assault on me. One of them falls to his knees, pummeling the side of my head and my right arm with his fists. A year and a half ago, Kenny Dugan broke that arm when he slammed me into a locker. That might be him now, trying to recapture the glory. So, I do all I can do. I take a diversion.


Madison, Wis.—Authorities are questioning five local wrestlers in the death of Evan Weiss, a senior at Monona High School. Just one day before all six were set to graduate, the students are facing charges of first-degree murder in what authorities are describing as a clear case of gay bashing.

Weiss and his best friend, Davis Grayson, were walking home after the last day of school when the suspects allegedly jumped the pair in a field behind the school and beat them.

Grayson remains hospitalized in critical care.

Perhaps most tragic is that Weiss died mere blocks from the state capitol, where Governor Doyle Petersen is days away from signing major hate-crime legislation into law.

When asked to comment on the incident, Governor Petersen said, “It’s difficult to comment without all the facts. But once these boys are found guilty, I plan to lobby for the death penalty and see those little fuckers fry.”

My self-inflicted fantasy does the trick and carries me away into unconsciousness. I don’t know how much later it is when I feel someone gently prodding my chest. I move and my body explodes. A discharge of pain from my shoulder leaves my right arm flaccid. I wail and pull it to my chest.

I look up at Davis. His left eye is swollen; it’ll be completely shut by morning. His sandy blond hair juts out in every direction, decorated with grass clippings. Dark streaks crisscross his face like war paint and, with the sun disappearing behind trees and houses, shadow and blood fuse into one.

“A car drove by and they freaked.” His whisper is like grinding glass. “You were out. I didn’t know what to do.”

He holds out his hand to help me up but I shrink away, keeping my right arm against my chest. He sees this.

“Is it broken?”

I vividly remember what it felt like when Kenny broke it—a river of knives flowing up to my shoulder—and this does not feel like that. I shake my head and, using my good arm, push off the ground. We stand facing each other for a moment, each fading into a silhouette. We limp back to my house.

© 2011 Brian Farrey

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