Love is the Higher Law, by David Levithan

5982447Claire, Jasper, and Peter all experience the tragedy of 9/11 in different ways. They are all only barely connected – Claire goes to school with Peter, who meets Jasper at a party and makes a date with him not long before the towers fall. Love is the Higher Law is a shifting narrative, from one character to the next, and subsists far less on plot and more on the emotional impact of 9/11.

Since there isn’t really a story/plot in this book, I can’t really say much about it in terms of story. In terms of characterization, though, Levithan has done an amazing job here. I’ve come to expect that from Levithan. He can make me like and sympathize with characters that I initially can’t stand (like Jasper), and the emotions he writes out are genuine without ever being melodramatic. I was most interested in Claire’s story and wished more of the focus had been on her, especially as she starts the book off, but after awhile I became interested in Jasper and Peter too. I also wish the book had ended sooner, because the last few chapters felt more didactic and focused on impeding war. They didn’t fit as well with the rest of the book.

On the plus side, though, I loved hearing about 9/11 from the point of view of people who lived in NYC at the time. We all have our stories, but honestly I imagine the experience for someone who lived there is different from those of us who saw it on the news. There were things I had never thought about, like the smell or the papers from inside the tower offices that got blown into yards around the city. Even though I remember vividly what happened that day, this was a new experience for me. It’s the most powerful thing about 9/11 that I’ve ever read.

[And, on a sidenote, I found out one horrible tidbit about American law – a man who has had sex with another man, even once, even protected, is not eligible to donate blood. I was appalled to find this out! It’s such an antiquated and bigoted law! I have no idea what I can do about it, but it makes me very angry and I’m glad to have become aware of this!]

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2010, Prose, Young Adult and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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