Thursday, 7 July 2011

review: Love Is The Higher Law

by David Levithan
Alfred A. Knopf, 2009
contemporary young adult
Awesome Awktopus Summer of YA Lit Challenge

Claire's in class. Jasper's asleep. Peter's waiting for the record store to open so he can buy the new Love & Theft CD. Claire knows Peter from school, Peter's first date with Jasper is that night and Jasper doesn't know Claire at all. But they are all in New York City when the twin towers are hit, and each of their lives will connect, intersect, affect and be affected in the aftermath of 9/11.

The cover:

Before I read this book, I had no idea what those two blue beams of light were. And even afterward, this cover is representative, yes, but also lazy. You take a photo, stick some text on it and call it a cover?

The book:

It's impressive, really, how well David Levithan gets us to know his characters, because the novel is short. I suppose that's what happens when your protags are consistently ruminating, trying to figure out the whats and whys and hows of some of life's larger questions.

Claire is sweet and thoughtful. Her long thinking-out-loud spiels make her extremely easy to relate to, because she's just like you: a teen wondering about everything, ever wondering. Jasper's more prickly, but the way Levithan shatters stereotypes with a gay Korean character ("They always figure you want to talk about math. Or the violin.") won me over. And Peter is plain adorable, a guy who lives through music and doesn't capitalize and seems almost naive. The attraction between Jasper and Peter feels so real that even I could see the allure of a same-sex partner.

The various settings throughout related to 9/11 were eye-opening. Ground Zero and Central Park make for excellent backdrops to the characters' discussions. There's less talk of life and death and more of humankind in gerenal, which was surprising but also a relief. Levithan finishes on an intriguing note which may depress some readers, but Love Is The Higher Law is ultimately a fulfilling story.

Rating: 3.7 out of 5