“Love is the Higher Law” opens on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City and chronicles the experiences of three teens – Claire, Jasper and Peter – During and After (and some Before) the horrific events of that day. Their lives, once loosely related, become tangled and intertwined as they develop unique relationships with each other that are a direct result of their personal reactions to 9/11.
It may surprise some readers who know to expect a certain level of drama in each YA romance-type story, but because of what they’ve been through, any possible drama is completely left out of the equation. Drama, like so much else in the days following 9/11, is a pointless waste of time.
What surprises me is that this is the first fiction I’ve heard of that covers New Yorkers on 9/11. Maybe it’s still too raw to tackle for fear of exploit, but David Levithan does it with beauty and sensitivity, making the book a shared experience rather than one of an audience eavesdropping on something personal and private.
This is an amazing book, full of important, compelling words relating to love, life and loss. I wasn’t in NYC and have only been there a handful of times, but it’s amazing that so much of the characters’ experiences reflect my own as a long-distance witness.
I’m coming to expect Levithan’s words to be ones I want to remember, so I’m only going to read his books in the future with a notebook handy to copy down quotes. I’m not one to defile books, but I’d even consider highlighting lines in my own copies.
Everyone should read this and remember the Before, During and After that changed the American psyche. From where I sit, it seems the current-eight-years After has blended with the directly Before to make a new today. We’re somewhat jaded and numb to the changes, so it’s important to call a time out from the new normal and remember. Not only is it important to remember for the countless victims of 9/11, the raw emotion after that tragedy was good for those of us who survived.
“I have been so good about getting back to normal, about moving on, about forgetting enough so the the pain doesn’t keep me awake, but remembering enough so that I am a different, better person.” – “Love is the Higher Law,” by David Levithan
Up next: “The Wild Things,” by Dave Eggers