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Love Is the Higher Law
Cover of Love Is the Higher Law
Love Is the Higher Law
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Bestselling author David Levithan (Every Day; Boy Meets Boy; Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) treats the tragic events of September 11th with care and compassion in this novel of loss and...
Bestselling author David Levithan (Every Day; Boy Meets Boy; Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) treats the tragic events of September 11th with care and compassion in this novel of loss and...
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Description-

  • Bestselling author David Levithan (Every Day; Boy Meets Boy; Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) treats the tragic events of September 11th with care and compassion in this novel of loss and grief, but also of hope and redemption.
     
    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...
 

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Excerpts-

  • Chapter One Chapter One
    Claire

    My first thought is: My mother is dead.

    When Mrs. Shields, the school secretary, shows up so gravely in the doorway and gestures for Mrs. Otis to come over to her, I am sure that my mother has died, that I am now going to have to pack up my books and go to Sammy's school and collect him and tell him that Mom is dead and I'm all he has now and somehow we'll get by. I am so sure that something is wrong, incredibly wrong, and I can't imagine what else it could be. I am already gathering my books as Mrs. Shields whispers to Mrs. Otis. I see Mrs. Otis nod, distressed, and then Mrs. Shields disappears back into the hall. I sit up straighter, waiting for Mrs. Otis to look at me, to say my name. But instead she looks at all of us and says, "Class, a plane has hit the World Trade Center."

    Katie Johnson gasps. Other kids start talking.

    I am blank.

    And then Mrs. Otis asks, "Do any of you have parents working in the World Trade Center?"

    We look around. No. But Teresa says that Jill Breslin, who's in one of the other senior English classes, has a father who works there. I think of our apartment, only ten blocks away from the towers. I know my mother isn't home. I know she left with me and Sammy this morning and continued uptown to her office. But suddenly I'm wondering: What if she forgot something? What if she went back to the apartment? What if she took the subway down to Chambers Street, underneath the towers?
    I've gone from being sure she's dead to being unsure she's alive, and that's much scarier, because it almost feels rational.

    Mrs. Otis informed us on the first day of school that there would be no cell phone usage tolerated in class, but now it's the fifth day of school and there's nothing she can do. She's trying to hold it together, but she's as confused as we are. Cell phones are ringing, and all these kids are telling their parents they're okay, we're all okay—our school is a good thirty blocks north of the Trade Center. Abby Winter's mom starts telling her what the news is saying, and then she tells it to the rest of us: "The plane hit around the ninetieth floor. The building's still standing, and people are evacuating. Firemen are going up. The other tower looks like it's okay..."

    My friend Randy spots a TV in the back of the class, but when he tries it out, all we get is static. I know Randy has a phone and I ask him if I can use it. I try calling Mom's office, but nobody picks up. I leave a message on the answering machine, telling her I'm okay.

    The principal gets on the PA and says that all the classes have been informed of the "situation downtown," and that if there are any "concerned students," they should come to the guidance suite. We all know what he means by concerned students—he means if your parents are there.

    We're not a big school. There are only about seventy kids in each grade. So I can't help imagining Jill Breslin down there in the guidance office, and a few other kids. Teresa's getting frantic now, saying she has to go see Jill. And it's not even like they're best friends. Mrs. Otis tries to calm her down, saying the guidance counselors will take care of it. And I think that kind of makes sense, since the guidance counselors are adults, but it also doesn't, because even if Teresa isn't best friends with Jill, she definitely knows Jill more than any of the guidance counselors do.

    The thought of Jill Breslin in that guidance office makes me feel I should go to the lower school and see Sammy. I wonder if they've told the second graders what's happening, or if Mrs. Lawson is closing the blinds and giving...

About the Author-

  • David Levithan is a children’s book editor in New York City. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 3, 2009
    Levithan (How They Met, and Other Stories
    ) successfully takes on the task of writing a 9/11 novel that captures the heartbreak of the events of that day through the eyes of three teenagers. Claire, in school that morning, finds herself drawn to late-night walks downtown. Her classmate Peter, waiting outside Tower Records to purchase the new Dylan album, watches the towers fall. And college student Jasper, who had previously met and planned a date with Peter, spends the day collecting papers that have blown into Brooklyn from the World Trade Center (“Something as mundane as two sheets of paper from an office file could provide the final evidence of how vulnerable we are”). Over the next weeks and months, they slowly and tentatively connect with each other, engaging in a healing process parallel to the one New York City itself experiences. Levithan renders the three distinct voices of his characters convincingly, and if some stylistic gambits (notably a 12-page paragraph conveying Peter's post-9/11 uncertainty) miss, more often than not Levithan brings genuine emotion to his portrayal of three broken teenagers helping each other heal. Ages 12–up.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2009
    Gr 8 Up-Claire and Peter are friendly acquaintances at their New York City high school. Jasper is a freshman in college. They attend a mutual friend's party, and Peter and Jasper make a date for the evening of September 11, 2001. They reschedule and have an excruciating date a week later. Claire and Jasper meet again by chance at Ground Zero when neither can sleep. Claire is called to action, Peter is reverent, and Jasper, a kind of "expert dodger," can't feel a thing. The three come to develop a deep friendship. Levithan's character development is quick and seamless. He defines the trio's personae by how they perceive the tragedy, how they interact, and how they observe the world. The author's prose has never been deeper in thought or feeling. His writing here is especially pureunsentimental, restrained, and full of love for his characters and setting. Though the trio's talks and emails are philosophically sophisticated, "Love Is the Higher Law" is steadily paced and tightly, economically written. Discussion of the U.S. invasion of Iraq feels like overkill, but it brings the novel to an appropriately queasy end. Levithan captures the mood of post-9/11 New York exquisitely, slashed open to reveal a deep heart."Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library"

    Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    June 1, 2009
    Grades 8-12 Levithans stab at the great 9/11 novel captures the intersecting angles of fear, confusion, rage, and compassion that clashed in the wake of the attacks. We see the horrific morning through the eyes of three New York teens: Claire, dutifully at school; Peter, standing outside Tower Records to snag Dylans latest album; and Jasper, asleep for the first wave. Their immediate reactions differ, but together they express a common yearning for a reprieve from media-drenched paralysis and endless what-iffing, without wanting to duck the full jet of emotion cauterizing the city. A romance between Peter and Jasper claims the bulk of the narrative weight, as Claire becomes mostly an injection of purity who helpsbrings the two together. Theres no question that this is powerful stuff, honestly felt and deeply conveyed. Yet the story may resonate more with those who were teens or even adults at the time of the attacks rather than the intended audience, whose memories and feelings may not align with the characters. Ultimately though, this novels multiple levels of emotion, trauma, and recovery nail many of the simultaneously personal and universal sentiments unleashed after 9/11.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

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