Seventeen-year-old Luke Chesser is trying to forget his spectacular failure of a love life. He practices marching band moves for hours in the hot Texas sun, deals with his disapproving father, and slyly checks out the new band field tech, Curtis Cameron. Before long, Luke is falling harder than he knew he could. And this time, he intends to play it right.
Since testing positive for HIV, Curtis has careened between numbness and fear. Too ashamed to tell anyone, Curtis can't possibly act on his feelings. And Luke--impulsive, funny, and more tempting than he realizes--won't take a hint. Even when Curtis distances himself it backfires, leaving him with no idea how to protect Luke from the truth.
Confronting a sensitive topic with candor and aplomb, acclaimed author J. H. Trumble renders a modern love story as sweet, sharp, and messy as the real thing, where easy answers are elusive, and sometimes the only impossible thing is to walk away.
Praise For J. H. Trumble's Don't Let Me Go
"A sexy, vibrant, and heartfelt debut." --Martin Wilson, award-winning author of What They Always Tell Us
"Deeply moving. . .will be appreciated by adults and teens alike." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A charming story. Trumble's love for the characters is evident on every page, and it's contagious." --Robin Reardon, author of A Secret Edge
1. What do you think attracts Curtis to Luke? What do you
think attracts Luke to Curtis? How do their past relationships
affect how they see each other?
2. Luke’s initial response to Curtis’s admission that he has
HIV is quite negative. Knowing the affection he feels for
Curtis, how do you explain that reaction?
3. Curtis says Luke falls in love with guys like a kid falls in
love with a new puppy. Considering Curtis has little evidence
to make such a claim, why would he say that? Do
you believe it’s a fair assessment of Luke’s character?
4. What keeps Curtis from telling his family about his HIV
status? Is there just one reason? More than one?
5. Discuss Curtis’s dad as a parent. Do you believe he should
have done more to rein Curtis in? Why didn’t he? Do you
believe the freedom he afforded Curtis is in any way to
blame for Curtis’s predicament?
6. Jaleel tells Curtis that contracting HIV is no different from
getting cancer. Curtis argues that it isn’t the same. What do
you think? Jaleel also accuses Curtis of being a homophobe.
What did he mean by that, and do you agree?
7. Consider some of the negative responses to Curtis’s HIV
status—those of Jaleel’s mother, the guy in the bar, Robert.
Are those responses rational? Understandable? How did
their reactions affect Curtis or Luke? How would you have
reacted had you been each of those characters?
8. Compare those negative reactions to the reactions of those
close to Curtis: his father, Corrine, Luke, Luke’s mother. If
your son, your brother, your boyfriend told you he was
HIV positive, how would you handle the news?
9. Besides the fear of passing on the virus, why else might
Curtis have pushed Luke away?
10. Robert suggests that Luke loves lost causes. Do you believe
this is true? And if so, is that a valid basis for loving someone?
And if not, what is a valid basis for love?
11. Do you believe Luke is just naïve, or do you consider him
more of a hero? How so?
12. How does Curtis’s therapy group affect his relationship with
his father? With Luke? How important do you think groups
like this are to HIV-positive individuals? In what ways?
13. Psychologists speak of the five stages of grief—denial, bargaining,
anger, depression, and acceptance. How do these
stages of grief play out for Curtis? In what way are the
stages linear and in what way recursive?
14. Discuss the evolving relationship between Luke and his
dad. Do you believe all chasms have been bridged at the end
of the novel? If not, what hurdles do you see in the future?
15. A serodiscordant relationship is one in which one partner is
HIV positive and the other is not. How do you feel about
such relationships? Would you ever consider entering one?
16. Do you believe this novel has affected your understanding
of the HIV virus, AIDS, and the struggle of those who are
affected? If so, in what ways?
17. Do you know someone with HIV/AIDS? How has the
virus affected his or her life? How has it affected your relationship
with that person, assuming there is a relationship?
18. We know from Don’t Let Me Go that Curtis and Luke are
still together nine years down the road and planning to be
married. Discuss some of the challenges they might have
faced in the intervening years.
19. How do you think the love relationship between these two
characters will end?
20. Discuss your thoughts and feelings on the responsibilities
of someone with HIV to disclose that information to another
person. Do you think it’s only necessary in a sexual
relationship? Whom should Curtis have been more forthcoming
with? What about Luke’s responsibilities? Do you
think he did the right thing by keeping Curtis’s secret as
long as he did?