book review

‘Without You’ – Review 

I’m once again breaking my upload schedule by writing this post early but I simply couldn’t wait to share this amazing book with you all! 

Anthony Rapp’s Without You is one of the few books I’ve read in my lifetime that’s had me crying buckets! 

For those of you who don’t know, Rapp is an actor and performer whom I know from Rent The Musical. He was an original cast member, playing Mark Cohen from the workshops until Rent shot to fame and then reprising his role as Mark in the film version of the musical. 

The beautiful story and music of Rent touched me immediately and made me more aware of the short time we have on this earth and how I should spend it wisely. The writer of the show, Johnathan Larson, passed away on the night of their dress rehearsal making the story even more tragic. 

Rent was the reason I bought Without you in the first place. I was interested in getting an insight into what went on in the lead up to their opening on Broadway and behind the scenes but I got so much more. 

Rapp truely opened his heart and soul to the world through this book. He is very relatable, for me at least, having struggled to find work at times, being so touched by the music and lyrics of the show, dealing with relationship problems, coping with the death of Johnathan Larson and then the death of his Mother. He was so open and descriptive about every detail he shared whether it was those last moments he had with his mother, which had me bawling, or whether it was his first sexual experience as a teenager. His openness makes him likeable from page one and I found I could identify with a lot of what he said, having lost a family member to cancer not so long ago. He didn’t portray his mother’s sickness and death as a beautiful and peaceful thing like most people do, instead he told the ugly truth which I am truly thankful for. Rapp didn’t seem to care what people thought of him, he just told his story for which I truly admire him.

I loved the insight I got into the making of Rent as that was a primary reason I started to read the book. It was clever how Rapp included the lyrics of the songs as I often found myself singing along to those I knew. As I know the musical inside out I found myself laughing at the lyrics and songs that got cut from it but were included during the rehearsal and workshop process. I would really have liked to have seen that duet between Mark and Maureen! Being a Renthead I would have loved to have read more about the show and more at the end of the book where Rapp was filming the movie version however this is just my own personal interest and there was so much more substance to this book. 

The story is packed full of emotion and at times I couldn’t even believe this was someone’s life I was reading about. Coming from such an ordinary background Rapp ended up in the spotlight only to still have to deal with those ‘ordinary’ people things like death, crappy relationships and the unspoken topic of his sexuality. This particularly hit a nerve with me when Rapp described his desire to want a relationship with his mother in which he could talk about his boyfriends openly and feel fully accepted.

Rapp’s openness about throwing himself into his work and the risk of missing out on time with his mother touched me. He doesn’t try to set himself above anyone else or any reader, he’s on the same level platform and this is obvious throughout the whole book. He admits to mistakes which is refreshing. It was nice to see that in times is stress and sadness he could relate to the lyrics Larson had left behind and seek some comfort from that. 

Without You is a book about the musical Rent, but it is also about loss, relationships, fame, friendship and ultimately it is about life and it is definitely worth the read whether you know the show or not.


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