Monday, June 06, 2011

With or Without You by Brian Farrey

With or Without You by Brian Farrey is a young adult novel told from the perspective of eighteen year-old Evan, a boy who along with his best friend Davis have spent highschool being bullied for being gay. Luckily Evan is able to take comfort in his kind, wonderful, boyfriend Erik, somebody he has kept secret from everyone- even Davis- for nearly a year. Then Evan and Davis get an invitation to join the Chasers, a gay society that offers protection and belonging of the kind neither of them has ever had. While Davis is immediately swept up into the world of the Chasers, Evan finds himself torn between the two important men in his life. How many lies is Evan willing to tell to keep Erik a secret, and how long before his two worlds come crashing together?

With or Without You is a very intense debut by Farrey, it is definitely the kind of book which immediately hooks you in and takes you for a whirlwind and unforgettable ride. It is important to have all types of GLBT characters and literature, but if I had to describe With or Without You in one word it would be gritty. Evan and Davis stand in stark contrast to some of the cheerful gay males present in young adult books, for example David Levithan's Boy Meets Boy, but the story they have to tell is both realistic and heartbreaking.

This is not a book to read lightly, this is a book to devour. As a main character, Evan is both believable and frustrating. His deeply rooted insecurity makes him do things that are not logical, but ultimately he leaves the reader with a worthwhile lesson about being true to yourself. I found Evan's friendship with Davis charming, at least until things spiraled out of control, and I loved some of the little flashbacks Farrey included to give extra insight into how Evan met both Davis and Erik. I also thought the setting, With or Without You takes place in Madison, Wisconsin, was unique and interesting. Setting the novel in a small town allowed Farrey to address some issues that are hopefully less common in cities, although even Evan and Davis are lucky enough to have a youth centre for GLBT individuals to go to.

Farrey has a thrilling story to tell in With or Without You but what really makes the book memorable is Evan. Evan grabs a place right next to your heart and winds himself around it, refusing to let go even after you put down the book. The only complaint I have about the novel is that I really wished for more resolution. Of course, in real life things don't end up neat and tidy, but that's why I enjoy fiction, the author has the ability to let the reader know how things turn out and in a way I felt a bit disappointed by that aspect of the book. Throughout the novel, Farrey's debut With or Without You is charming, shocking and even heartbreaking, but a strong main character and a smooth writing style means that one thing thing that is consistent is the fact that from page one onwards, you will not be able to put this exciting and realistic book down.

Release Date: May 24th, 2011
Pages: 368
Buy the Book
Source: Teen Book Scene 

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