Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book Review - Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Title: Love is the Higher Law  
Author: David Levithan
Year: 2009  
Page: 176  
Genre: Fiction, Yound Adult  

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Probably not
Tearjerker? No   
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
Claire and Peter are friendly acquaintances at their New York City high school. Jasper is a freshman in college. They attend a mutual friend's party, and Peter and Jasper make a date for the evening of September 11, 2001. They reschedule and have an excruciating date a week later. Claire and Jasper meet again by chance at Ground Zero when neither can sleep. Claire is called to action, Peter is reverent, and Jasper, a kind of "expert dodger," can't feel a thing. The three come to develop a deep friendship. Levithan's character development is quick and seamless. He defines the trio's personae by how they perceive the tragedy, how they interact, and how they observe the world. The author's prose has never been deeper in thought or feeling. His writing here is especially pure—unsentimental, restrained, and full of love for his characters and setting. Though the trio's talks and emails are philosophically sophisticated, Love Is the Higher Law is steadily paced and tightly, economically written. Discussion of the U.S. invasion of Iraq feels like overkill, but it brings the novel to an appropriately queasy end. Levithan captures the mood of post-9/11 New York exquisitely, slashed open to reveal a deep heart.

First Sentence:
My first thought is: My mother is dead. 

Why did I pick this book?
I was browsing the New Young Adult shelves at the library. Was attracted by the cover. I haven't read any 9/11 related novel, so thought I'd give it a try. 

My thoughts:
  • Where would you when it happened? This was a theme of the book. I was still in Australia then, but my husband (then fiance) was in the mid-west (we had a 5 year long distance relationship). I was reading in bed when my sister came into the room and told me to turn on the TV (she found out while chatting to people online). We couldn't believe what was happening. For the following week or so, I was so worried about what'd happen, like if I'd even see my finace ever again... I lost 10 lb in a week...
  • I think because I was so emotionally drained back then, when I read this book, it just didn't impact me the way it did back then. When I see pictures now of the aftermath, I would feel a pang. My heart would involuntarily squeezed. But I didn't feel this way at all when I read the book. I thought I'd be a bit more emotional about it. There was a chapter when I felt a little teary when one of the characters went to a concert not long after: "and I understand the energy I felt before but didn't have a name for -- it's the energy of gathering" (p87) 
  • The book was about the stories of these 3 characters and how they intertwined post 9/11 - however, I felt that their voices weren't that clear, that it really was just the author's voice/his feelings/his thoughts of how he felt afterward, and divided it up into 3 characters instead. It is a pretty thin book (163 pages) so I don't think the characters really developed.
  • While I don't hate this book, I don't really like it either... 

    This isn't even something I've feared, because I never knew it was a possibility. (p5)

    The secret to living long is to have something to live for. (p143)


    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!

    100+ Reading
    Young Adult


    1. @Juju - thanks! I am always I am too harsh when giving a low-rating review... but wanna stay honest!

    2. Thank you for pointing me to your review after reading mine. I wonder if our reactions have anything to do with being here when it happened or not? Or, the book just didn't do it for you :-)

    3. @Helen - I don't know, it could be it. Every time I saw pictures of people jumping off the buildings I still teared up. I haven't read a lot of books on this topic, I may just have to read others to see if it's this book, or the topic...