Friday, September 28, 2012

With or Without You by Brian Farrey

With or Without You by Brian Farrey

With or Without You opens with a beating and the shock of it immediately draws you into the story.  Two teens on their way home from school get beat up by local school bullies.  They are singled out for being gay.  Evan and Davis are best friends who have wanted to fit in all their lives.  For each of them the summer after high school graduation is a time of change and of growing up.

Before they head off to college, Davis is forced out of his family home and moves into the Rainbow Youth Center.  Here he learns about a group of young gay men called the Chasers and he joins with strong need to gain acceptance and influential friends.   Evan has a boyfriend named Eric that he has kept secret for over a year.  He is an artist who is scared and largely ignored by his family and he is torn between his friendship with Davis and his love for Eric.  Evan also joins the Chasers but realizes that something is not quite legitimate about this group and he lies to protect himself.

The Chasers are a group of gay men who actually set out to contract the HIV/AIDS virus.  Calling it "The Gift".  Evan has seen the reality of the disease and knows that they are being misled but is hopeless to stop it.

Farrey has created a well written young adult novel that is like nothing I have ever read before.  It is unique, fast paced and shocking.  With or Without You is a endearing love story, a mystery and a work of art.  Mainly set in Madison, Wisconsin with the college town as a back drop, the story is realistic, multi-layered, news worthy and timely as it tackles issues many teens and adults deal with today.

With or Without You won the Minnesota Book Award for Young Adult Fiction this year and I can see why.  Farrey's has created a wonderful character in Evan who narrates the book in several mediums.  He makes up news stories in his head, he creates art and mimics famous artists, like Van Gogh or Keith Haring.

Farrey is an excellent writer who paints with words and the result is a novel that is radiant!