Brandon Will's Reviews > Love Is the Higher Law

Love Is the Higher Law by David Levithan
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's review
Aug 20, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: ya-lit
Read in August, 2009

Most of the time I want to avoid holocaust stories and AIDS memoirs like...well, like a plague. The events of 9/11 fit well into this category: things I know I should read about but are just too depressing to the core to read about sometimes when you're trying to live life, which can be depressing enough.

But we need to read these books sometimes. Levithan makes it easy for us, in this case. Because he loves, and he cares, and he wants people to remember - and if they don't remember, then to know that other people they live with remember.

Here, Levithan highlights the hope and the humanity that bloomed from that tragedy, looking at it reflected through three teenage lives lived in or near that city, at that moment in time.

What he does that is amazing with this book is he writes a personal, intimate story to the backdrop of history - recent history. Personal stories against history are a staple in young adult literature. But not so much in recent history. These events happened not even eight years ago - it's barely "history", in the context of history-book-history. But it is history in all of our lives, and it is so important to not let that become just "history" - like in the history books. The living stories, the lives that changed - that's what needs to be remembered. Introspection doesn't need to stop and wait for the next horrible thing to happen in the world.

My problem was that I've read his other books so many times and loved them so much and got to know them so much that this seemed awfully...Levithan-ian. All the first person narrators are certainly philosophical. They all see the beauty in the minutia of life, how it all connects to the bigger, realer, all-encompassing picture. The plot involves a chance encounter where characters take a chance that leads to unlikely connection and catharsis.

I sound awfully jaded re-reading that. My point is not the slam the book. It's a wonderful book. The point is to say that if you love Levithan - go in loving it, and knowing that you are in for what he does best. That is meant in no way to demean him. Why shouldn't someone do something they do best? It's hard to do something best! Hell, it's really, really hard to do something mediocre! It takes millions of dollars to make a bad movie, a countless hopes and dreams to lose a semi-final, and a lifetime of hopes and wishes and muddled good intentions to ruin a blooming relationship. There is nothing new with his form here, and I was disappointed with that at first. But then I told myself to get over my "literati" self and just enjoy the man doing what he does so wonderfully.

And if you've never read him before, read this and you'll quite possibly want to run and hold and take in everything he's ever written.
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