Review: Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2009
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.
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:
Five HUGE stars. I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone.