07 November 2013

Review: Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Published: 25 August 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 176 (paperback)

Genre/s: Young Adult, GLBT, Contemporary

Source: Own library


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.

My Thoughts

David Levithan is one of my few auto-buy authors.  I'm pretty selective when it comes to my auto-buy list because I'm 1) not a good fangirl and 2) I like to be sure that even if it's an author I'm mad about that the actual synopsis appeals to me.  With Levithan being pretty much king of that auto-buy list however, I simply purchased Love is the Higher Law without even reading the synopsis and it wasn't until I picked it up that I realised it is about 9/11.

On 9/11 I was still living in Australia.  Half a world away, but it was still a profound moment in history, and I can still remember where I was, who I was with and what I was doing when I first heard what was happening.  And the idea that such a terrible moment can imprint itself so definitively in our minds is the basis of Love is the Higher Law.

Told through the eyes of three characters who are in New York on the day of the attacks, unlike many other Levithan books, there's not really either a focus on romance, or on GLBT characters.  There ARE GLBT characters, and there is a semi-romance, but what this book is really about is the impact that 9/11 has on Claire, Jasper and Peter in the next twelve months.

The beginning of the book is intense - it jumps straight into the terror attacks and what happened in New York City - evacuation of nearby buildings, the reaction of New Yorkers just wanting to help wherever possible and the personal reactions - terror, grief and disbelief.  

At certain parts, two characters tell their own perspective of the same scene, and that really added an extra dimension to the situation and helped me to like all the characters much more than if I'd only read one POV of each scene.  Jasper is probably the one that I connected with the least, and at times I didn't really understand his motivation, but by the end of the book it all started to make more sense and I could appreciate why he reacted as he did.  

Love is the Higher Law is a short book, but it has a big emotional impact.  Levithan's style is distinct but also comfortingly beautiful - and he's not afraid to include a few controversial messages whilst telling a compelling, sad and ultimately hopeful story.


  1. Awww, you said rubbish. *pinches your cheeks* That's so cute and British-y. I know you're not British, but still. I guess it's also an Australian thing; you guys did start as a colony after all. ANYWAY, about the review...

    Trevor is the freaking sweetest. Such a nice guy and funny and also cute but not like omg the hottest guy to ever walk in a high school.

    So glad you loved this one. You may stay in the cool kids' club!

  2. I would love to read this. I guess I'm part of the generation that can't really remember 9/11. I know it's impact is so enormous and horrible, even as a Canadian.

    I actually haven't read much from David Levithan but he's one of those authors that is a must read for so many people that I might as well start with this one. :p Thanks for the review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  3. It's his writing style that really grabs me - and his characters are always so diverse. I'd love to spend a day in his imagination!

  4. Nikki @ Foil the PlotNovember 13, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    A David Levithan novel about 9/11?! How did I not know about this?!

    I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on 9/11, but honestly, because i'm just outside DC, our immediate concerns were more on the attacks there. This is one of those subjects that can create such a deep, jarring impact and with the beauty and grace in Levithan's writing, I can't even imagine how much of an emotional wreck I'd be reading it.



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