printed copy

Just Between Us

J.H. Trumble

ISBN 9780758277183
Publish Date 9/24/2013
Format Trade Paperback
Categories Fiction, Kensington
List Price: $15.00

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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

Discussion Questions

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?

About J.H. Trumble:

J.H. Trumble is a Texas native and graduate of Sam Houston State University.

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