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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 recruited


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

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

With Or Without You


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.

Meet the Author

Brian Farrey acquires young adult fiction for Flux. He and he alone has the power to make you an honorary Grimjinx. (You know you want it.) He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Brett Helquist's celebrated art has graced books from the charming Roger, The Jolly Pirate, to the alarming New York Times bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events, to the cozy E. B. White Read-Aloud Award finalist bedtime for bear. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

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With or Without You 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
jmanni32 More than 1 year ago
With or Without You is, simply put, astounding. It tells the story of Evan, a gay teen who is trying to find where he fits in the world, while dealing with some very emotional and life-changing events. From page one, Farrey's writing grips you like a tool shed vice, squeezing and squeezing on your emotional self until you reach the popping point. Beautiful prose is blended masterfully with realistic, almost four-dimensional characters that I desperately wanted to see rounding the corner in real life. Evan, the MC, reminded me so much of my younger self in that he is a "peacekeeper" of sorts, trying not to ruffle the delicate feathers of his perfectly-proportioned life (I was so like that when I was a teen!). But nothing can stay as is, Evan learns, and the two parallel paths of his life come crashing into each other in a beautiful and heartfelt and painful way that almost had me in tears. My heart was lunging page after page, anticipating/dreading what I just knew was coming. Farrey hooked me, no doubt about it. With our Without You is also filled with an intense cast of supporting characters. From Shan, Evan's somewhat controlling sister, to Davis, his broken and mad-as-hell best friend, this book isn't wanting in the flawed character department. But the one who stole the show, in my opinion, is Erik, Evan's seemingly perfect boyfriend, who takes Evan on a journey of self-discovery that reminded me of a car accident on the freeway: you don't want to watch, but you just can't look away. Many times throughout this book, I was scared for these two and their future. Evan's concealment of Erik from the rest of his family and friends blows up big time, and Erik doesn't take it lightly. And the drama and tension and conversations between these two is so realistic I felt like I was eavesdropping on their relationship. Well done, Mr. Farrey, well done. My Rating: Only because it's the highest number I use am I giving With or Without You 5 stars. But believe me, this book far surpasses that. If you're a fan of authentic, flawed, pained characters forced to make decisions that could potentially destroy the life they've built, then you need to read this book!
Nikkayme More than 1 year ago
With or Without You is a character-driven, harsh, stunning, but beautiful story about a young man caught between the two worlds he's tried to keep separate The title actually sums up the book perfectly. Except not really, because Brian Farrey's storytelling and character development are incredible. Evan, an 18 year old senior, has all the problems a guy his age should have, but then he has to contend with the gay-bashing he experiences on a regular basis. Because, yeah, he's gay. But he's not just gay. He's an artist - painter - a best friend, a son, a brother, and a boyfriend. He's all these things, but he still has no clue who he is. 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An outstanding and gripping narrative, With Or Without You, will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Very well written and easily believable. You come to love and hate the characters in this story and love and hate yourself for caring so much about them. This story is not for the faint of heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Taya More than 1 year ago
This was probably one of the best books I've read in a long time. You really care about the characters, and you can relate to how they feel even if you haven't been in the same situations. Highly recomended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago