Review: Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Title:  Love is the Higher Law
Author:  David Levithan
Series:  None
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date:  August 25, 2009
Pages:  163
Format/Source:  Paperback/Purchased

Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary

First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .

The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

David Levithan has written a novel of loss and grief, but also one of hope and redemption as his characters slowly learn to move forward in their lives, despite being changed forever. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)

Where to Start?…

The events of September 11, 2001, are still just so… ineffable that I don’t even know how to comment on them.  I still, to this day, find myself drawn to TV shows and movies about that day, and each time I am brought to tears.  And I’m not really a crier.

And some authors and artists may decide to steer clear of such an event, because of the sheer magnitude of it and what it meant to individuals, and what it meant to us all as a country.  But I have to say that I don’t think there was anyone more suited to writing a book about 9/11 than David Levithan.

His prose is just so excruciatingly beautiful and poignant that I spent most of my time writing down my favorite quotes.  I took 4 1/2 pages of notes while reading Love is the Higher Law and I’d say about 85% of that is quotes.

And it’s not just because David Levithan is such a talented writer.  It’s not just because he was there, about 20 blocks away when the World Trade Center was hit.  It’s not just because he has grown up living in and around New York City.  All those things certainly help make Love is the Higher Law into the amazing book that it is, but Levithan just gets it.  He gets life, its beauty and its ugliness, its sadness and its hope, its strength and its fragility. He understands the things that matter, the things that are petty, the details that make up the core of our society and the core of our beings.  He just does.  And in this wonderfully powerful and moving story, he shares all of it with us:  the horrors of the world, along with the hope that drives us forward.

Great Quotes…

Of course I can’t review a David Levithan book without sharing some of my favorite quotes.  There were too many to share them all, but here are a few of my very favorites:

“Something as mundane as two sheets of paper from an office file could provide the final evidence of how vulnerable we are, how we live our lives not knowing how or when they will end.  I had a sense then of how if we truly understood how many of the unimportant things we do will end up outliving us, we’d never be able to go on.”

“Usually I treated dates like they were chess matches, trying to plan my moves a little bit ahead, carefully deciding which conversational pieces to deploy, willing to sacrifice pawns of small talk if it would get my opponent to fall in love with my king.  But this was a different kind of board, a different set of rules–almost like the pieces had been knocked off, and we were both trying to agree on where they’d been before.”

“I had never felt so much like my life was not my own, that I was just a vessel for things I would never understand.”

“She looks older when she’s asleep, and this alarms me.  She looks like the act of sleep is exhausting her as much as the act of living.”

“But I guess the thing about fear is that it defies the laws of rationality.  It creates its own laws instead.”

My rating for Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan:

Five HUGE stars.  I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone.

Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Random House, Inc.
You may also enjoy:  Boy Meets Boy │ The Lover’s Dictionary
Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.

I read this book as part of the Levithan Loveathon, hosted by Courtney at Abducted by Books.


  1. Bittner

    February 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I'm so glad you liked this one! And that you had such high praise for Levithan. I loved your last paragraph. It was very beautifully written.
    I can't wait to read this one but I can only imagine that I'll have a box of tissues next to me.

  2. fakesteph

    February 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I'm not sure why I didn't know that this was about 9-11, but I totally want to read this one now!

  3. Brandi Kosiner

    February 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    The writing sounds great! Lovely review.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  4. Sarah Elizabeth

    February 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Gosh, I really don't have the heart to read things like this. I find real-life stuff so depressing, I can't even watch the news. Glad you enjoyed this though!

  5. Kate Midnight Book Girl

    February 18, 2013 at 6:21 am

    I completely, totally want to read this book now- thank you for sharing it with me!!

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