Thursday, April 7, 2011

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Book Jacket

Claire is sitting in homeroom.  Jasper is fast asleep.  Peter is waiting for Tower Records to open.

They don't really know each other.  Claire goes to school with Peter.  Peter met Jasper at a party, and they made plans to go out.

This is the everyday.  This is the before.

And then.

The world gets turned upside down.  Life gets turned inside out.  There is fear and there is grief and there is confusion and doubt.  It's a dark time, a tragic time. 

But there's more to it than that.

There's also love.  And kindness.  And a desire to make it through.

On 9/11, thousands of people died...but millions upon millions came together in ways they never would have imagined.

For Claire, Jasper, and Peter, life has been reshaped just when it was starting to take shape.  As their lives intersect and their feelings and experiences crystallize, there are new understandings, new friendships, and a new awareness of what really matters.

David Levithan has written a novel of loss and hope, grief and redemption.  Because even when tragedy occurs, love is indeed the higher law.


This is a book that will restart those "Where were you?" conversations.  I was in 8th grade on September 11, 2001.  I remember being in the locker room, hearing that people were dying in New York City.  A girl said Peoria was going to be bombed, because we were #5 on a terrorist's hit list due to Caterpillar.  I was too young to fully understand what had happened, but the moment was important, and it is a permanent memory.

However, this book spoke to me more as a story of any disaster, so if you don't remember 9/11, there is still plenty to learn from and share experiences with.  My sophomore year of college, a tornado hit my school, wiping out the majority of the dorms.  I was in a bathroom with 16 other girls when the wall beside us was ripped away, and I saw whole buildings lying in piles of rubble.  By the grace of God, no one was killed, but that experience affected me the way 9/11 affected Claire, Jasper, and Peter.

I appreciated and understood their differing reactions:  wanting to talk about it all the time, never wanting to hear about it ever again.  Realizing with a shock that a whole day had gone by without thinking about the event.  Trying to find meaning in the catastrophe, to move on to something better instead of wallowing in the pain. 

Love is the Higher Law covers their emotions and actions from 9/11 to its first anniversary.  I loved seeing these three characters grow, both individually and together.  I loved seeing them find joy in the love and compassion that was so prevalent for a while after.  And mostly I loved that these characters chose to learn to love all of humanity rather than take the easy way out full of hatred and revenge.

Five out of five U2 lyrics.

Release Date:  August 2009
Reading Level:  Grade 8+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: LINCOLN

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of Love is the Higher Law:

College Candy
Frenetic Reader

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