Powerful and Intense Debut

Evan and Davis have been friends since the age of nine; they have shared everything from bonding over the love of Chinese food to suffering from homophobic bullying. With or Without You by Brian Farrey is a gripping novel about self-discovery. The book begins with Evan and Davis being brutally beaten by some members of the wrestling team the day before graduation. These disturbing occurrences have been consistent through their high school years, yet neither turns to an adult after any of these vicious beatings. Evan’s parents ignore him and favor his older sister Shan. Davis’ mother is in a home after a breakdown and his father wants him to move out by his eighteenth birthday. To escape this abuse and make a fresh start, both have plans to go to college in Chicago at the end of summer. However many things happen during the summer that complicate matters. Evan has a secret boyfriend that not even Davis knows about. Even though he is out to all the people that matter to him, Davis is afraid to share Erik and ruin their almost perfect, dreamlike relationship. In addition, Evan and Davis are recruited to join a radical activist group called Chasers. After a meeting Davis wants to join this group, but Evan is reluctant to join because of its reckless leader Sable. The backdrop of the story is the AIDS epidemic which is cleverly intertwined into the story through a character named Mr. Benton who has the AIDS virus. Erik, Evan’s boyfriend, is a nurse and Mr. Benton is one of his patients.
Evan is an artist who paints on glass panels mimicking the styles of various famous artists. Each glass panel is inspired by an important episode in Evan’s life. The panels are verbally described, and the incidents are visited in flashbacks during the course of the book. There is a lot going on in this book and while Farrey addresses coming out of the closet, and the effect of AIDS in the gay community, most of the themes in the book are universal: loyalty to friends, true to oneself, pride in who you are, bullying, vengeance, and monogamy. This book is in the Older Teen section of our library.

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