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Love Is the Higher Law by David Levithan
Publication date: Aug. 25, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Thank you Estelle!
Summary: 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…The good: I remember where I was on 9/11. I was a freshman at The College of New Jersey and getting ready for class when the RA rushed into my room to tell me to turn the TV on. That's how I saw the first plane hit the towers and then the second. We watched together in shock, like is this really happening? It was surreal. But you know, even though I can remember that morning clearly, I didn't fully grasp the meaning of it then. I was concerned for my parents and family (since they worked in New York) and knowing they were safe filled me with relief. But I was almost two hours away from home and New York wasn't a part of my life the way it is now. It might sound awful but I admit, I felt a certain detachment from the situation. I remember my boyfriend at the time being angry and I remember seeing some students crying. I felt sad for the thousands of lives lost and those affected by it and scared by what this might mean for the country. Would there be war or more attacks? But I think being away at school, on this tiny college campus, put us all in a bubble unless you knew someone who had been there. Reading Love is the Higher Law not only reminded me of that day but it gave me a raw look into what it must have been like to be in New York experiencing the terror and the chaos.
There's no denying that David Levithan's writing is beautiful. I've read Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, The Lover's Dictionary and Every Day and that's always my first thought. But I don't think I've ever meant it as much as I do now when I say his writing here is exceptional. It's lyrical and poetic and flowing. I guarantee that you will want to highlight at least half the book. It's also the first book of his where I really felt a connection to the people he was writing about. We're introduced to three characters with three very distinct voices and perspectives on that day. There's Claire who is kindhearted and introspective and deeply affected by 9/11. Jasper who basically slept through it and feels detached but is searching for meaning. And Peter, who actually watches the towers fall from a distance, finds a deeper appreciation for people, New York and the healing power of music. This book isn't just about that day though. It's really about the after. Before 9/11, they were three teenagers who had gone to the same party, passing each other by. In the aftermath, their lives become intertwined in a way that neither of them could have imagined. I loved reading their inner thoughts, conversations, fears, everything. The author really brought them to life and even though they're not real, I found myself thinking that if they were, they'd be really lucky to have found each other.
(No) reservations: Like I said, this is my favorite book of his.
Do I recommend?: If you have a David Levithan specific to-be-read list, I highly recommend you bump this one up to the top. And if you've never read any of his books, this is a good place to start.