Monday, March 14, 2011

Love is the Higher Law

Love Is the Higher LawLove Is the Higher Law David Levithan

As the song says "Love is a temple, Love is the higher law"

It follows three teens as on the morning of 9/11, the days after, and then a week after, then months, then a year. It focuses on the confusion and the changes in New York City and how each teen reacts-- needing to be around other people or cutting themselves off...

What got me was how well Levithan captures that morning and the fear and the confusion as the events unfolded, and the unreal surreality of that day and the days that followed. I forget those immediate feelings, but this book immediately put me back in a smoke-filled dorm lounge where the only sound was Peter Jennings's voice. (And I have to say that I love that the characters in this book also settled on Jennings as the best coverage of that day, just like we did. Because for some reason that was important-- finding the best channel to watch with the least annoying commentary.)

It was a hard book to read, especially when I look back and see not only what has changed, but what hasn't changed at all. But, I think it's a great one for the kids who where too young to remember, or realize what was happening, or in just a few years, the ones who weren't born yet. There are events in our past where if we weren't there, we see them in the history textbook sense and understand their significance on a mental level, but don't understand the emotional gutpunch of those moments that throw everything onto a different trajectory. This is an excellent work to show that gutpunch, especially of an event that has since, in how it's used in rhetoric and how the US as a government responded in the longterm, has become a divisive catchphrase.. We've forgotten the horror of that day, and we've forgotten how we drew together that day and cried on the shoulders of strangers and held our loved ones that much closer as we stared at the looping images that we imagined would be burned into our eyes and brains forever.

I want to have faith in strangers. I want to have faith in what we're all going to do next. But I'm worried. I see things shifting from United We Stand to God Bless America. I don't believe in God Bless America. I don't believe a higher power is standing beside us and guiding us. I don't believe we're being singled out. I believe much more in United We Stand. I have my doubts, but I want it to be true. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we really came together, if we really found a common humanity? The hitch is that you can't fund a common humanity just because you have a common enemy. You have to find a common humanity because you believe that it's true. page 111

Book Provided by... my local library

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1 comment:

Katie said...

I read this book back when it was first published, and I agree completely with your review. I love Levithan's writing anyway, but the way he described everything in this book pulled me right back in time to the events of that day. And it will become a more valuable book, I think, as kids who weren't old enough to understand what was happening then start to become YA readers. Wonderful review, thanks for sharing!