David Levithan does a great job in Love is the Higher Law showing the impact of September 11 on the lives of three teens living in New York City. The story is told alternating between their points of view, and eventually their paths cross and they become friends.
The language in the book is beautiful. Levithan says in the Author’s Note that much of this language was from observations of his during this time, since he experienced 9/11 first hand.
The best way for me to review this book is to give you some of those quotes. I’m usually not a big “quoter” but we all know what this story is about, so it’s the emotional connection that is important in this book:
“It’s not about them, really,” I said. “It’s just about me.”
I knew how monstrous that sounded—I knew September 11th wasn’t about me. But my reaction to September 11th—that was entirely about me. (p. 59)
I can tell: These are people like me. The relocated. They have not been sleeping in their own beds. They are wrecked by the devastating side effects of such helplessness, most notably insomnia. …..I don’t make eye contact with them. I’m afraid of their stories. That’s what it’s been like lately—we have the ability to glimpse each other as souls. Damaged, frightened, confused, caring souls. (p. 71)
I think that if you were somehow able to measure the weight of human kindness, it would have weighed more on 9/11 than it ever had. On 9/11, all the hatred and murder could not compare with the weight of love, of bravery, of caring. I have to believe that. I honestly believe that. I think we saw the way humanity works on that day, and while some of it was horrifying, so much of it was good. (p. 106)
We have children growing up now who don’t remember this event. This book would be an excellent choice as a learning tool. I would suggest pairing it with With Their Eyes: September 11--The view from a high school at ground zero, edited by Annie Thomas. Whether an adult or teen, if you haven’t read both of these, you should. There really isn’t a reason not to.
I’ve posted about the Illinois’ Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award previously. This book is one of the 2012 nominated titles, and that’s why I read it.
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2009
Copy obtained from the library
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