Love Is A Higher Law
by David Levithan
Published: 25th August 2009
Claire is sitting in homeroom.
Jasper is fast asleep.
Peter is waiting for Tower Records to open.
They don’t really know each other. Claire goes to school with Peter. Peter met Jasper at a party, and they made plans to go out.
This is the everyday. This is the before. And then. The world gets turned upside down. Life gets turned inside out. There is fear and there is grief and there is confusion and doubt. It’s a dark time, a tragic time. But there’s more to it than that.There’s also love. And kindness. And a desire to make it through.
On 9/11, thousands of people died… but millions upon millions came together in ways they never would have imagined. For Claire, Jasper, and Peter, life has been reshaped just when it was starting to take shape. As their lives intersect and their feeling and experiences crystallize, there are new understandings, new friendships, and a new awareness of what really matters.
I picked this book up after watching a video from the booktuber, Megan Olivier and she was describing this book and how much she loved it. I put this book on my wish list and I bought it with some birthday pennies. When it arrived, I immediately picked it up and had read it within 24 hours.
I should say, this book is only around 150 pages long so it isn’t really a lengthy book, but let me tell you – this little book packs a lot of punch! I must admit when the book first arrived and I saw how many pages there were, I did wonder how the author would be able to deliver a fulfilling narrative, in such a short space. Particularly because it isn’t from just one person’s perspective – it’s three people’s perspectives.
It’s no secret that I love multi stranded narratives, and I’m always fascinated about seeing the same picture (if you will) but from several different stand points.
In the case of Love Is A Higher Law, the multi perspective narrative gives the novel a lot of depth and really becomes a powerful story. As you can see from the blurb, the novel focuses on the events of 9/11, and so having the different narrative points of view I had the ability to feel all of the emotions that surrounded that day.
One thing I thought was interesting was how the author weaves the characters stories together. It’s almost effortless, there’s nothing forced about the relationships in this novel. Each character was affected in their own way, and I like that the impact of the events changes how the interact with other characters.
I knew going into this novel that it wouldn’t be a light read, despite its length, because it focuses on a day in history that was terrifying and incredibly upsetting. I remember being 11 years old and coming home from school to see my parents watching the news. I could see how devastating and traumatic it was, and must have been for those that lost family or friends, and were in New York on that day. There were moments that this book brought me to tears, or made my stomach churn. I think that is a testament to Levithan’s incredible writing. Particularly in scenes with Clare in the first third of the novel – I won’t go too far into it, as it’s something you need first hand. I felt at times as I was stood in the streets with the characters, watching and it frightened me. I felt everything the characters felt, and I loved that Levithan had the ability to evoke that in me.
I engaged with the characters immediately. I think it’s even mentioned in the book that these sorts of horrific moments bring the unlikeliest people together. I think this applies with these characters. I think if you picked these characters and put them in a separate novel, I wouldn’t have liked them all – particularly, Jasper.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend this novel. It is definitely one that I believe people will enjoy. I can’t say it’ll be for everyone because it is a difficult book to read emotionally, but I think it’s worth investing in and worth the rollercoaster it took me on.
One you need to pick up without a doubt, especially if you’re a fan of Levithan’s previous work – this is his best that I’ve read so far. It’ll blow you away!