Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .

The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

So reads the synopsis for David Levithan's Love is the Higher Law (2009). Levithan says in a note at the end of the book that he wrote this because there's suprisingly little written about what happened on September 11th.

The story is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of Claire, Peter, and Jasper, and they're three very different people. The book is also broken into three time frames. The first segment is September 11th itself, the second segment is summer 2002, and the third segment is March 2003, so there is a nice progression in coming to terms with events and growth for the young adults and their relationships with each other.

While September 11th is certainly the backdrop for events and the cause of some changes for the three, the book is truly the story of their emotional growth and coming-of-age. Even without such a catastrophic event, everyone goes through some kind of coming-of-age. There's just an extra dimension, an extra sense of history, to their movement into adulthood because of what happened around them.

My overall personal rating of Love is the Higher Law is a B.


Anonymous said…
That is surprising to hear. I think September 11 was a coming of age for all Americans, no matter how old. It certainly sobered me and changed my view of the world. I can't imagine what it would have been like as a teen during that time.
I really did feel it was more about them and their relationships with each other, though September 11 definitely played a role.

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